Crab, Dab & Blenny is a fun, rhyming picture book about the serious theme of plastics in the ocean.
Fish friends Dab and Blenny are upset by the plastic that washes into their lovely rockpool home. Crab, on the other hand, just LOVES the shiny bright colour… But when Blenny gets caught in plastic twine, Crab finally understands the danger of plastics in the ocean.
Crab, Dab & Blenny is a book that celebrates friendship and the vast variety of life that exists in a quiet rockpool. Perfect for early readers or as a bedtime story for four- to eight-year-olds.
Thank you Els, for hosting this guest post as part of this week’s blog tour for my new rhyming picture book, Crab, Dab & Blenny, a story of plastics in the ocean.
Crab, Dab & Blenny is the eighth picture book I’ve written and illustrated, and I have to say it’s probably the one closest to my heart: combining the themes of rockpools (which, having been brought up by the sea, I’ve always been fascinated by) and the dangers of plastic pollution.
I think it was a book I’d always intended to write, but the themes took on more resonance during the many walks I took along the beach during the first lockdown in 2020. On those walks, I became more aware than ever of the beauty of the environment, but also of the large amount of plastic waste washed up on the high tide line.
The book centres around three rockpool friends (a crab, a dab and – you guessed it – a blenny) and how their lives are changed by the increasing amount of plastic that floats into their idyllic rockpool home. Fish friends Dab and Blenny are upset by all the plastic, but Crab, who finds rockpool life a little dull, embraces the change. Until, that is, Blenny gets trapped in plastic twine and even Crab is forced to acknowledge the dangers of plastics in the ocean.
As with a number of my other books, Crab, Dab & Blenny uses a fun, exciting story to convey an important message to children of around 4 to 8 years of age, and I’ve been so thrilled to see how well it has been received during the few public readings I’ve done so far – with children not only engaging with the story but wanting to do their bit to reduce plastic pollution as a result! To help them do this, I am developing a resources page on my website, http://www.dogpigeon.co.uk, including top tips on child-friendly ways to ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’.
It has been a strange 18 months for all of us, and as a children’s writer and illustrator, I’ve missed being able to go into schools to share my stories – online interaction just isn’t the same. I can’t wait for the restrictions to be lifted and for proper, face-to-face, school visits to take place again.
I think Crab, Dab & Blenny is going to be a great book for school visits. It relates to lots of different aspects of the curriculum, and I think it will be a fantastic launchpad for children to produce their own wonderful writing and artwork – whether exploring the mysterious creatures and plants that live in the sea or taking a stand against plastic pollution.
I love kids’ art and I’m particularly looking forward to working with children to produce their own underwater pictures in the style of Crab, Dab & Blenny. I tend to adapt my illustration technique to reflect the story I’m working on. This was certainly the case with this book, and I experimented with various techniques, including collage and watercolour, in an attempt to create a suitably watery feel.
In the end, I developed a version of wax resist: outlining the details in a waterproof black pen, colouring the image with wax crayons and then covering the page with watery blue acrylic paint. The positive reviews I’ve had so far suggests the technique works well and it’s one that children will have fun reproducing for themselves.
After many months of working on Crab, Dab & Blenny alone, at home, during lockdown, I think I’ve produced a children’s book with an important environmental message, and I can’t wait to get out, in front of children and families, to share it.
Thank you, Peta Rainford and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Peta writes and illustrates her funny picture books on the Isle of Wight, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and hairy jack russell, Archie. In normal times, Peta loves going into schools to share her books and inspire children in their writing and art. She has appeared at a number of festivals and other events, including: Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, Isle of Wight Literary Festival, Exmoor Dark Skies Festival and Ventnor Fringe. She is one of the organisers of the IW Story Festival, for children and families, which takes place every February half term.