The Quickest Claw in the Reef

The Quickest Claw in the Reef

 By Natasha van Bentum

 James Bay resident and author Henri van Bentum.

James Bay resident and author Henri van Bentum.

Is there something in the air here in James Bay that stimulates creativity? Or perhaps it’s the sea air.

Either way, James Bay resident Henri van Bentum’s latest children’s book is part mystery and part adventure.  

Artist and writer, Henri is a recent cancer survivor. He is 88 years-young. His story “The Quickest Claw in the Reef” is a collaboration with his former student, 80-year young illustrator PJ Heyliger.

Readers may recall the other articles in earlier issues of the Beacon about Henri’s previous three books which formed a Trilogy. Now they are a Quartet!

van Bentum and Heyliger both have a great love for coral reefs. This passion is amply demonstrated by the fact three books in the quartet take place in coral reefs --- gardens and nurseries of the ocean. 

Their latest book is part adventure and part mystery.

 Cover from “The Quickest Draw in the Reef”. Illustration by PJ Heyliger.

Cover from “The Quickest Draw in the Reef”. Illustration by PJ Heyliger.

Kaboom! Pop! Snap! Crackle! What can be making all that noise in the oceans? A noise so loud that it even interferes with the Navy’s sonar?

The adventure revolves around mysterious noisemakers who make it hard for all the other coral reef dwellers to get some sleep. A small committee of three wise fish is appointed to track down the source of all that racket.   

They seek a sleuth to help out. Their first choice is Chroma the Cuttlefish. She’s a master of disguise and does her very best, but, after many tries, does not succeed. 

Next up, Oscar the Octopus, who achieves his mission in finding the culprit. But here we must stop, I don’t want to reveal the story’s ending.

During the journeys of Cuttlefish and Octopus we meet Fiddlehead crabs, a starfish, a walking shark, Sam the Grumpy Stingray, seahorses and many other coral reef dwellers.

Altogether, a whimsical, fun and educational story for both the young and the young-at-heart now joins the previous three books to make a Quartet.

[All four books are available on Amazon.]

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