“The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab”

Book Reviews


Reader Reviews

I received this wonderful children’s book on Wednesday and couldn’t wait to read it to my first graders at Brophy Elementary School. The students extremely enjoyed this story as a read aloud as they had touched and felt a horseshoe crab when we went to the Aquarium. The rich vocabulary and rhymes kept students highly engaged. Although my students knew it was a fiction story, they appreciated the non-fiction elements including the glossary, diagrams, and facts throughout the book. They wondered whether the author was an expert on horseshoe crabs. Some direct quotes from my students include: “I like this book because it tells us about real life in the ocean,” “I think it is a good book and I hope the author writes another book about a seahorse,” “The pictures are cool! How did she make them? Maybe with markers.”

–Amy Cheever, First Grade Teacher, 
Brophy Elementary School, Framingham, MA


Fourth graders study the ocean biome each year in connection with Maine Studies. We discuss plants and animals, their life cycles, which includes food chains and webs. The students learn about the adaptations that animals utilize to survive. This book would fit right in with this unit of study. The illustrations are wonderfully colorful. The use of rhythm and rhyme in the text makes it a fun read. I particularly liked the factual information included in the back of the book.

–Sally MacLaughlin, Fourth Grade Teacher, 
Ella P. Burr School, Lincoln, ME


The illustrations are wonderful and the story is fun and informative. It will be particularly helpful to the fourth grade as they study Maine habitats and creatures.

–Cheryl Leonard, Principal, Viola Rand School, Bradley, ME


I am a third grade teacher and read this book to my class. The vocabulary is wonderful, “debris.” Being from Maine I figured the children were aware of what a horseshoe crab was, but NO. The book is sure to bring on much discussion. Fabulous! A must read! 

–Debra Hardy Timberlake, Third Grade Teacher, Livermore Falls, ME


I like the rhyming, and the bold words are in all the right places to emphasize words that hold a child’s interest. The pictures are bright and entertaining, with the back section of the story being very educational, while still understandable to a young child. The story line is wonderful with a young horseshoe crab learning how to survive in his habitat. I would read this book to any group of children and I think they would all be entertained. Children that frequent the beach would be especially excited by this book and would probably look for more books by this author. The story moved me because it involved learning an important life lesson with a happily ever after ending!

–Heidi Caswell, para-professional elementary school teacher, NH


I read “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” to my class of 2-3 year olds. They really liked it, especially the part where the seagull swooped down and grabbed the horseshoe crab and then she wiggled free and fell back into the water. We had to look at those few pages and talk about them again and again! I also read the story to my 7 year old and she really liked the story as well. 

–Michelle Lewis, Preschool Teacher, Concord MA


Bright and Colorful Illustrations and creative story!!! The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab is an extremely enjoyable book for both children and adults. The rhyming story is fun to read, the characters are expressive and the illustrations are beautiful. My classroom of preschoolers (4 year-olds) found The Bumpy Lumpy Horseshoe Crab entertaining and ask for it to be read during circle time whenever they see it on the shelf! As a teacher, I find the last few pages very educational, which explains what the other animals are that are in the book, too. 

–Erica Baker, Preschool Teacher, Beverly MA


Thank you so much for The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab. It is our new FAVORITE BOOK!

–Jackie Young, Parent of a six and four year old.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

In Petrie’s educational children’s book, a horseshoe crab learns that an apparent fashion statement is actually necessary for survival.

As a young horseshoe crab wanders the seafloor, “flapping his gills” and “gliding with ease,” he notices something peculiar—a fellow horseshoe crab who’s a bit older, with bits of seaweed, barnacles, and other sea fauna encrusting her shell. The youngster is shocked that his female counterpart would choose to mar her shell this way—why not be light and free? Upon closer inspection, he sees that she has periwinkles, limpets, barnacles, and seaweed covering her sleek outer shell. Although the younger horseshoe crab is bewildered at the idea of weighing oneself down on purpose, he quickly learns why it’s smart. As the sea retreats and the tide gets low, the female horseshoe crab buries herself in the sand, disguising her shell and avoiding the watchful eye of predatory birds. From the air, she just looks like a bunch of seaweed in the ocean. Without anything to hide behind, the younger horseshoe crab is quickly snatched into the sky by a sea gull, but the crustacean manages to fall from its grasp by twisting and turning. After this near-death experience, he understands the wisdom of collecting creatures to live on his carapace, and he’s soon lumpy, bumpy, and, most importantly, safe. Petrie once served as an outreach educator for the New England Aquarium, and her knowledge of and passion for marine life is apparent throughout this colorful work. Readers don’t need to have a deep interest in marine biology to love this book; it’s so engrossing and engaging that the fact that it’s also educational is just an added bonus. Children won’t just learn about horseshoe crabs: after the story is over, the last pages offer a glossary of the sea creatures mentioned within, including limpets, Jonah crabs, and barnacles. Petrie’s bright illustrations are also a delight. Overall, this work is sure to inspire further under-the-sea exploration at bedtime and beyond.

A fun marine adventure that’s fit for everyone.

Kirkus Reviews


The Salem News

Raising awareness for a crabby population

Petrie is an advocate for the dark, homely creatures and wrote and illustrated a children’s book to raise awareness of the threat to them from over-fishing. Petrie, a marine educator and Topsfield resident, will read her book “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” at the Topsfield Library on July 25, where she’ll also bring along some of her close friends: a male and female horseshoe crab, and perhaps a crab, a periwinkle and some barnacles.

”The more people become familiar with them, the more they might care about them and the more they might want to protect them,” Petrie said of the horseshoe crabs. “They’re harmless. Horseshoe crabs are such an ally to humans, yet people are so afraid of them.”

Many New England coastal visitors aren’t familiar with horseshoe crabs, even though they’re prevalent in local waters, she said.

For many years, Petrie introduced children to sea creatures by bringing them into schools. She worked for the New England Aquarium for three years before opening Seatales Educational Company. As a scuba diver with a scientific license, she catches her own sea animals off the coast of Massachusetts and keeps them in chilled aquariums in her garage at home until she releases them back into the wild.

Petrie said horseshoe crabs are important for biomedical research, a main reason she works to raise awareness. Horseshoe crabs have blue blood, a copper-based blood, Petrie said, which can be used to expose harmful bacteria in injectable and intravenous drugs used in humans.

The research doesn’t stop there.

The creatures’ compound eyes have helped scientists discover a way to treat tunnel vision and other visual disabilities in humans, Petrie said. Also, their shells contain a tough-yet-flexible substance called chitin, which has wound-healing properties. Chitin is used in sutures, anti-bacterial sponges, contact lenses and several other items, and scientists are trying to make a synthetic version.

”Horseshoe crabs have been alive since prehistoric time,” Petrie said, “so it kind of makes sense that they have all these qualities.”

After testing the horseshoe crabs, scientists return them to the ocean.

But when these sea animals are fished for their meat, which is used for conch fishing, their population is threatened, especially when it takes 10 years for a female and nine years for a male crab to reach reproductive maturity.

”You can imagine how you could wipe out a whole population,” Petrie said.

In her children’s book, Petrie uses simple, bright images and a playful rhyming scheme to convey her message that horseshoe crabs have a greater purpose than their appearance may suggest. She’s also hoping her readers will feel the same spark she felt 20 years ago.

“I love the little guys, and I think they’re incredible,” Petrie said. “And people would, too, if they spent some time with them.”

Want to learn more about horseshoe crabs?

Watch Petrie’s YouTube video by searching, “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab,” or using the link: http://youtu.be/2PuMZlcajlM

Visit “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab’s” Facebook page, www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Bumpy-Lumpy-Horseshoe-Crab/132228266858133

–Muriel Hoffacker, Community Editor/Lifestyle Reporter, The Salem News, Beverly MA, July 22, 2011


Tri-Town Transcript (wickedlocal.com)

Topsfield native writes children’s book

Topsfield resident Janice S.C. Petrie knows so much about horseshoe crabs that she wrote a children’s book “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” to debunk common myths about the sea creatures and to educate children and adults.

”Horseshoe crabs are not well known. They get a bad rap! There are many misconceptions about these friendly sea creatures,” Petrie said.

”The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” is a story set in Duxbury, MA about a sleek, little horseshoe crab that learns how taking critters and creatures for a ride could save his life.

While working as an outreach teacher at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Petrie became interested in learning more about horseshoe crabs.

”I learned how to catch a horseshoe crab and was able to observe them in their nature habitat,” Petrie said.

Petrie, a graphic designer, certified K-8 teacher and reading specialist, collects her horseshoe crabs and other sea creatures from Powder Point Bridge in Duxbury.

”Horseshoe crabs are easy to collect in shallow water. I have always gone to Powder Point Bridge to find horseshoe crabs and I never come home empty-handed!” Petrie said.

For many years Petrie, founder of Seatales Education Company, went to pre-schools and elementary schools to give hands-on sea creature demonstrations to students.

“I would catch sea creatures in September for my school presentations and release them back into the wild in June,” Petrie explained.

Petrie created an impressive system to make sure the animals were kept in a similar environment to what they were use to, even though they were in Topsfield.

Through demonstrations, Petrie learned the biggest misconception people have about horseshoe crabs is they sting because of their long tails.

”They do not sting or even bite! Horseshoe crabs use their tails for balance,” Petrie explained.

Horseshoe crabs are very valuable for science research, Petrie added. Scientists are interested in horseshoe crabs for a number of reasons including their optic nerve, chitin shell and blue blood.

”Scientists have discovered that a horseshoe crab’s copper-based blood has the ability to clot when it comes in contact with gram negative bacteria.”

In the 1960’s, Dr. Frederik Bang, a Johns Hopkins researcher working at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, found when common marine bacteria were injected into the bloodstream of the North American horseshoe crab, massive clotting occurred.

Their blood is used by the pharmaceutical and medical device industries to ensure that their products, such as prosthetic limbs and vaccines, are free of bacterial contamination, Petrie explained.

“Horseshoe crabs are invertebrates, meaning they do not have a backbone, but they do have a very hard shell,” says Petrie.

Their shell is made out of chitin, a flexible but hard material.

“Chitin from horseshoe crabs is used to make chitin-coated sutures and contact lenses,” Petrie said.

Although horseshoe crabs are a valuable resource to the medical community, they are in danger of extinction, Petrie added.

“Fishermen use horseshoe crabs as bait to catch conch and eel,” Petrie said.

For more information about horseshoe crabs check out Petrie’s youtube video by searching for “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab.”

On Monday, July 25 at 10:30 a.m., Petrie will be reading her new book at the Topsfield Town Library. Sea animals are also expected to make an appearance.

”The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” has a whimsical, rhyming style, and portrays horseshoe crabs exhibiting behaviors that they commonly use in real life.

“Although it is a fictional story, I tried to make it as accurate as possible,” Petrie said.

“I was always interested in writing a children’s book,” Petrie said. “This book is a great tool for teachers who are studying marine life, tide pools, or coastal sea animals.”

Petrie used her graphic design experience to create colorful, fun and simply drawn
illustrations that are expressive and bring each sea character to life.

Although two horseshoe crabs are the central characters, periwinkles, limpets, barnacles and green and Jonah crabs are also featured in the story.

In the last few pages, Petrie includes additional information about horseshoe crabs and the other sea animals that appear in the book.

“The main reason I wrote a book about horseshoe crabs is because I thought the more familiar and comfortable people get with horseshoe crabs, the more apt they would be to care about them and want to protect them,” Petrie added.

–Suzanne Snell, Reporter – Tri-Town Transcript, Boxford MA, July 22, 2011


The Wakefield Daily Item

Author Janice S. C. Petrie writes The Bumpy Lumpy Horseshoe Crab

They hang out at the beach and are so scary looking you think they might bite. No, they re not men wearing Spandex.

These little creatures are actually horseshoe crabs and author Janice S. C. Petrie, who grew up in Montrose and raised her children in Greenwood, has written a book about them.

Written in rhyme, The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab is set in Duxbury at Powder Point Bridge and is for children ages three to ten. The book tells the story of horseshoe crabs and their undersea adventures. A glossary is included at the end of the book and teaches about limpets, barnacles and other underwater life forms and explains the individual parts of a horseshoe crab.

Petrie said that she learned details about the sweet horseshoe crabs while working for the New England Aquarium at the wooden Powder Point Bridge. She also worked for Seatales Educational Company for 20 years where she learned about other forms of sea life.

“In writing the book, my hope was that the more familiar people become with the crabs, the more they’ll be apt to want to protect them,” she said. “It’s amazing how many people know so little about these sea creatures.” Petrie, a Topsfield resident for the past 19 years, said that horseshoe crabs are an endangered species, and the entire population could be wiped out if measures are not taken to protect them. For instance, she said they are used as bait in the conch industry and to catch other seafood, and these practices could wipe out the entire population. 

“The horseshoe crabs,” she said, “are not royalty but they actually do have blue blood. This is because their blood has a copper base that appears blue when oxygen is present, whereas when human iron-based blood has oxygen present, it appears red.”

This finding has led to the LAL test, which helps to expose bacterial contamination of injectable and intravenous drugs. LAL testing is also used to screen prosthetic devices such as heart valves and hip replacements for bacterial contamination.

To learn more about the horseshoe crab, Google You tube and type The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab on the search line. To view Petrie s Facebook page, type in the title of the book after going to the Facebook site.