Book Review: The Barrel

The Barrel, by Kira Parris-Moore

My review: ★★★★

This book is a fable starring a family of crabs that are stuck in a barrel. They don’t like being in the barrel, and are all trying to get out. Working together, they manage to stack up on top of each other and get one crab out. She promises to come back to rescue the rest of them, but they never see her again. They do it again, and again their sibling never comes back. (We see the two of them relaxing on the beach, but their siblings don’t know this.) The rest of the family quarrels for a while, trying independently to escape, but nobody is successful, and their trust in each other is destroyed. Finally they all grumpily give up and decides that escape is impossible. The rest of the crabs perish in the barrel.

This is darker than most kids’ stories these days, though not nearly as dark as classics from the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Andersen. It’s clearly about socioeconomic hardships and other misfortune – a lesson about working together, remembering to lend a hand for those behind you, and keeping faith. I would personally recommend reading it with a child (not just handing it to them to read) since, like any fable, there’s a lot of value to be gathered by discussing the lessons of the story. It’s a good lesson for kids age 6-10.

The one missing star was for the subjective “feel” of the story.  The lessons are good, but the downer at the end makes me doubt kids will come back to read the book a second time.  It would perhaps be more balanced with some added humor.

I would also like to add, the artwork is absolutely fantastic! Gorgeously rendered and interestingly styled – I could look at this book just for the art itself.

Note: I was given a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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