The Coconut Crab
Peter W. Fong
Green Writers Press (2022)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (11/2022)
“Where the sand shifted underneath, the water looked silvery white, as grainy as an old photograph of the desert. Where the turtle grads waved in the tide, it was the bleached green of a hazy summer morning.”
That lyrical description and impressive imagery of the tropical islands open up Peter W. Fong’s wonderfully atmospheric text “The Coconut Crab”.
Little Ayu, a young coconut crab, lost her parents to a human raid on their island, leaving her under the care of her old grandfather. Ayu longed for freedom and liberty from her mundane way of life, which was not only full of despair but boredom as well. The only thing worse were the questions that lingered in her mind from time to time. What was she good at? What should she do with the day? What should she do with her boring, useless life?
Little did Ayu know that her world was about to turn into a captivating adventure. She forges friendships along the way with a goat, a bird, and a gecko. As her life soars, she encounters the usual challenges of life, including new dangers and enemies, and at times, emotions of insecurity, fear, uncertainty, and nostalgia set in. However, Ayu is determined to change the trajectory of her life and through this, agility and bravery become her new companions, as she is determined to return home, lighting the sand with her smile.
Conservationist Peter W. Fong has penned a brilliant novel worth turning the pages of. Designed for both adults and children, readers will inevitably laugh and empathize with little Ayu as she journeys the world making new friendships and discoveries. With characters and settings nostalgically reminiscent of animal classics, this story is about seeing the best, getting along with others, and finding joy in life. Here, friendship, concession, topography, generosity, and empathy reign across the pages.
Fong’s five-star work is bound to intrigue a young audience. The danger and fear never feel far from the page and move the story forward, but beneath this, is an emotional coming-of-age book about believing in yourself and genuine trust. Further, the author deftly balances the cozy anthropomorphism with the character’s personalities.
Altogether, “The Coconut Crab” will undoubtedly lend itself well to a big-screen cinematic adaptation. It is a glowing and vibrant text and an undisputed figment of the imagination.