When animals in children’s books are brought up in conversation, familiar and popular creatures come to mind: a dog, a cat, or a pony. Maybe even a dinosaur. Ruth Horowitz’s first children’s book was about a bat.
In Crab Moon, her first book for Candlewick Press, Ruth describes another creature that is neither well known nor well understood by children, but is even older than the dinosaur: a horseshoe crab. Ruth admits that she is “drawn to species that get overlooked because they’re not big-eyed or cuddly or cute.”
“Horseshoe crabs are especially fascinating because they’re hundreds of millions of years old, and because they’re tied to the phases of the moon and the seasons in a very basic and powerful way,” she says.
Ruth first became intrigued by horseshoe crabs at a lecture in Maine, where she saw a live crab on display. Then she received an e-mail message from an aunt who had just had an adventure: while walking on a Long Island beach, Ruth’s aunt suddenly came upon many horseshoe crabs that had been stranded after their annual spawning, and had to stop to save them from dying. The lecture in Maine and her aunt’s e-mail message inspired the full-time freelance writer to write Crab Moon.
In this book, a boy goes out with his mother on a moonlit night to see hundreds of horseshoe crabs spawning on the beach. When he returns the next day, he finds one lone crab marooned upside down. Overcoming his reluctance to go near its claws and touch its spiny shell, the boy turns it over and allows it to return on its path to the sea.
The author, a former children’s librarian, still enjoys visiting libraries and schools, where she talks to children about how she writes her books. When speaking about horseshoe crabs, she brings along a shed exoskeleton to share with the children. “I hope Crab Moon will encourage readers to seek out the beauty and importance of creatures that might seem alien at first glance,” says Ruth.
Ruth grew up in New Jersey, spent part of her childhood in France, and now lives in Burlington, Vermont. She holds degrees in linguistics and literature from Hampshire College.