By: Michael Tougias
Publisher: DartFrog Books
Publication Date: October 2021
Reviewed by: Dianne Woodman
As the story of Claws opens, we meet Lobsterman Henry Downs, who is surprised to find a two-and-one-half-foot long lobster in his trap on the northern side of Shipwreck Island. When Henry returns to the harbor, he shows the lobster to twelve-year-old Easterly as well as ten-year-old Kristin and her younger brother Brian. Soon after the discovery, Henry goes out on his boat and does not return. A search party is organized and discovers Henry's abandoned vessel.
Determined to solve the mystery, Easterly takes her lobster boat to the exact location where Henry disappeared. She sees what appears to be a giant claw belonging to a lobster. While Easterly and her sidekicks, Kristin and Brian, are playing detectives, a second person vanishes off their sailboat. Easterly’s story that a giant lobster is responsible creates friction among the townspeople, especially when tourism is affected by Easterly’s claim. To help calm things down, the mayor hires a lobsterman to dispose of the lobster or prove it does not exist. Things do not go as planned, and a second solution to the thorny situation is put into play. What is the outcome? Is there an enormous lobster prowling the waters near Shipwreck Island, or is it the product of Easterly’s imagination?
Middle grade readers will find Claws a captivating book. Besides a mystery to be solved in which Easterly is the central character, author Michael Tougias shows how people’s choices can impact lives either in a good or bad way. The use of present tense to tell the story makes readers feel as if they are right beside Easterly and the others as the story develops. In addition, the author realistically portrays the characters in their interactions with others and while they embark on dangerous adventures, which keep readers turning pages in anticipation of whether those characters will come through unscathed.
The author does an excellent job arousing readers’ curiosity for learning more about sea creatures, their intelligence levels, and how much they experience human-like feelings and emotions. Readers also gain information about a lobsterman’s job and climate change. Black and white drawings depict key scenes in the book. There is one mild expletive in the story, and an adult uses it.
Tougias shares with readers how he came up with the idea for Claws. The section with questions and answers about the story and the author’s decision to become a writer is quite interesting. Claws is a delightful mix of mystery, fantasy, amateur sleuthing by kids, tension-filled moments, and contemporary environmental issues. Everyone who enjoys this story featuring Easterly and her exciting experiences can read about more adventures in the next book, Revenge of Claws.
Quill says: Get ready to enjoy a wild adventure featuring a captivating twelve-year-old girl and a very cool mystery surrounding Shipwreck Island.
For more information on Claws, please visit the author's website at: www.michaeltougias.com