As a mother of an active 8-year-old son, I’m always on the lookout for fun reading material to keep him engaged. I was introduced to Never Underestimate A Hermit Crab, a graphic novel aimed at young readers, but perfect for the whole family, by Silver Dragon Books (a subsidiary of Zenescope publishing) and I’ve fallen in love with author Daniel Kaye’s style and imagination.
My son and I read this together and we both agree: you really should never underestimate a hermit crab, because they are full of surprises! From karate chopping to comic book critics, hermit crabs have many interesting sides and I’m eager to learn more about them. Author, and hermit crab enthusiast, Daniel Kaye was happy to give me some insight into why he chose to write about these small creatures and gave me some tips on caring for a hermit crab of my own.
GeekMom (Dakster Sullivan): Of all of the animals / creatures you could pick to write about, why did you pick hermit crabs?
Daniel Kaye: My wife bought one on a lark and when she brought it home, I found myself staring at it a lot. It didn’t really do anything but was just weird enough to seem interesting. I kept wondering about its limited schedule and interests, but soon began imagining its secret dreams and ambitions. Milo just seemed so comfortable in his own little world, but I knew he was hiding things from me….
When we had our son, he immediately loved the hermit crabs and now he and I draw them doing all sorts of peculiar things.
GM: What kinds of comic books do hermit crabs read and why are they so critical?
DK: Hermit crabs typically love the superhero genre, mainly because they have an over-inflated belief that, if given super powers, they could save the world. They enjoy Spider-Man for his humanity and sense of humor, but because crabs don’t earn a lot of money are limited to whatever they can download for free.
Their more critical nature probably stems from the fact that they love the great works of literature–Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight,” Alan Moore’s “Watchmen,” and Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman“–so always compare today’s writing to those (which seems unreasonable). They also worry when a great creative team is followed by a lesser-quality one which disassembles all the cool things the great creative team did. Obviously, they love everything done by Zenescope.
GM: I love the Star Wars and Star Trek references in the art. Do Hermit Crabs prefer one over the other?
DK: Oh, no. Hermit crabs definitely see the benefit of both and would never want to upset either’s fan base. In fact, a little-known statistic is that the most popular Halloween costume for male hermit crabs is a tribble, while for females it is Ambassador Palpatine. Hand to God!
GM: What would be your best guess at why hermit crabs rarely get above their first karate belt? Are they not very motivated to succeed further?
DK: I think it might have to do with the fact that it is very, very difficult for a hermit crab to get the belt on in the first place. Once they do–which could take anywhere from six weeks to a decade–they are way too tired to untie it and start over with another one. I wouldn’t say they are unmotivated. Maybe more that they are easily winded.
GM: What do you think is the most important tip about caring for your hermit crab?
DK: Keep their sponge wet and their temperature warm. I think the same can be said for pretty much anything or anyone you ever meet in life. Except for snowmen.
GM: If you could pick one thing that makes the hermit crab stand out, what would that be?
DK: Their sense of irony. Oh, and their willingness to defend orphans in knife-fights.
GM: Should everyone own a hermit crab?
DK: Yes. It teaches them the importance of geometry and ancient indigenous creatures. Plus, it might make them buy this book which would make me very, very, very, very happy (not that my needs matter, of course).
GM: Do you plan on writing books about other animals / creatures?
DK: Oh yes, I have many ideas for books and plenty of other creatures to play with. I have my eye on an anole, a gnu, and possibly even the lesser dog-faced fruit bat. Hermit crabs are still No. 1 for me, though. I think their philosophies of life, the wacky adventures they get involved with, and their sense of elegance absolutely demand more books (or maybe that’s just me).
GM: How old would you suggest someone be before getting their first hermit crab?
DK: From age 5, I think most children would be able to appreciate their craziness. In all seriousness, by that age they should know well-enough to not be rough with them–they are living creatures and not toys, after all. As with anything, parental involvement is key, so I’d invite parents not to just buy a crab and stick it on a shelf. Instead, share your imagination and desire to learn about these lil’ guys with your kids. And read up about them to make sure you really are taking care of them well. They can be a ton of fun, if you let them.
Never Underestimate A Hermit Crab is available through bookstores and Amazon for $8.99. Pick it up today to see all the fun you’re missing!