Claws on September 24, 2021
Source: Review copy
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Animals / Marine Life, Juvenile Fiction / Mysteries & Detective Stories, Juvenile Fiction / Readers / Chapter Books
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Life on Shipwreck Island is a bore for twelve-year-old Easterly Wind and her friends, Brian (age nine) and Kristin (age ten), until something strange happens just before the island's annual Summer Celebration Dinner. A lobsterman goes missing while fishing off the island, and there are signs of foul play. Then, just a day later, a local sailor's boat is found adrift, minus the missing sailor. The three children become obsessed with the mystery, and begin an investigation that leads them down a path of adventure.
While none of the islanders know what happened to the missing fisherman, the reader does. He was snatched out of his boat by the claws of a giant seven-foot-long lobster.
Assisted by a biologist and a crusty old lobsterman, Easterly slowly unravels what happened, but is also thwarted at every turn by Mayor Ruth Snackle, who wants to keep a lid on the story so that it doesn't affect the all-important tourism business.
Meanwhile, Easterly is getting more than her fair share of criticism from folks all over the island for starting the hysteria about a "phony monster lobster." People think it's bad enough that two islanders are missing without a few kids interfering with both the tragedy and the investigation. This only makes Easterly, Kristin and Brian persevere and take more risks to prove their theory, and those risks eventually bring them face to face with Claws.
Claws is a tale about a considerable lobster whose son is taken and the revenge he wrecks on a small fisherman’s island. Michael Tougias weaves a story about Claws, a mother lobster who loses her son to a lobster trap, and he includes facts about how the traps work, the details of how a lobster fisherman’s life revolves around what is found in the traps, and how the job has changed over the years. The cast of characters includes not just the fisherman and the lobster but some pretty essential children. I was immersed in the story. Do I feel for the lobster who lost her child to a trap and now wants revenge, or do I want the lobster fisherman to catch her and end her rain of terror? Better yet, is there an alternative can the lobster be moved somewhere else? The reader knows the whole time we are reading why Claws is attacking people, so a mystery unfolds as the characters try to determine if she exists and why she is attacking. In the end, of course, she is found, and a battle is waged over her life. The details of the setting make it very easy for you to escape into this short story and enjoy a bit of adventure on the ocean. Claws may be their book if you have a middle-grade reader who likes stories about large-sized creatures with some educational tidbits thrown in.