An underwater fantasy based on the true habits of hermit crabs and the flora and fauna of their marine environment, this book offers young readers an interesting first introduction to marine biology as well as an appealing story of Hermit Crab’s search for a house he can really call his home, as he grows throughout one year’s cycle.
“Hermit Crab, having outgrown his old shell, sets out to find a new one. He’s a bit frightened at first, but over the course of the next year acquires not only a shell, but also an array of sea creatures to decorate, clean, and protect his new home. The story ends with him once again outgrowing his shell. He finds a new “tenant” to look after his friends and sets off on a new adventure—a big empty shell with “so many possibilities.” This simply-told fable is replete with gentle messages about growing, moving on, accepting new challenges, interdependence, and building self confidence. It is beautifully illustrated and designed in bold, full-color, distinctively Carle collages. Carle includes a little factual information about the various sea creatures mentioned in the story at the end of the book. A good solid picture book with many story hour and bibliotherapy possibilities.”
– by Luann Toth, School Library Journal, June/July 1988
“Ages 4-6. Hermit Crab keeps outgrowing his shell, and each time it is traumatic for him to find a new home. His new dwelling is very plain, so he asks some of his more decorative neighbors—the crusty coral, sea anemones, and a flock of starfish—to brighten his shell. But soon that also becomes too small. How can Hermit Crab bear to leave his home and companions? In a sweet ending, he finds a smaller crab who gratefully accepts his offer of his old home and who promises to take good care of Hermit Crab’s friends. For his part, Hermit Crab is onto new shelters and all kinds of decorating ideas–sponges, barnacles, clown fish….The message, that change can be good, is well integrated into the story, allowing youngsters to appreciate this at several levels. Certainly they will enjoy the inventive collages Carle has fashioned to fill up the oversize pages. A master of this type of artwork, the artist brings out all the colors and textures of the sea. He bases his fable on the habits of hermit crabs and at the book’s conclusion provides descriptions of the creatures mentioned in the stories.”
– by IC, Booklist, May 1, 1988
“Hermit Crab moves out of his small shell on the sea floor, in search of a new residence. When he finds a bigger place, a sea anemone offers to move in with him; a starfish agrees to decorate the joint. A snail and a sea urchin are employed for cleaning and protection, a lantern fish for lighting and smooth pebbles are used for a wall. Hermit lives happily for a while, until it is time to move again, to still a larger place. Carle’s underwater neighborhood is snug, dynamic and full of possibilities. Droplets of color enrich the sea bottom and blades of seaweed are superimposed on the bright white background, in pictures that are occasionally quite abstract, but always engaging. All ages.”
– Publishers Weekly, February 26, 1988