No Exit: The Lucky Lobsters – the Harrowing Tale behind the Writing of this Book

The inspiration behind this full-color children’s book is based upon an intense but humorous scuba dive in some northern Atlantic waters. Be sure to read the five-star New York City teacher reviews at the end.  This post was updated today – originally published in August, 2013. Click the link (Lucky Lobsters cover photo) in the right sidebar if you feel like buying this book at Amazon.

                   NO EXIT

The Lucky Lobsters was inspired by a somewhat harrowing but humorous incident involving some very lucky lobsters. Some years ago, I was diving alone (not recommended) in some northern Atlantic waters when I came across a string of lobster traps all of which had several lobsters inside. The ocean floor there was about 40 feet deep. The water was cold but I was getting comfortable in my wet suit as my body heat warmed the water inside the suit. I didn’t plan this mass escape but, when I found them, hopelessly trapped, there was only one thing I could do.


Illustration by Jennifer Taylor, Victoria, British Columbia

I had no trouble with the first dozen or so as they no doubt were grateful for the immense favor I was doing them. No doubt they also did not know about the boiling hot water that was awaiting them had I not showed up. But the very last  one – he was pretty big – saw me as the enemy though. He likely was afraid of this alien with goggles, steel tank, wet suit and large black flippers, manufactured by Scuba Pro-nothing but the best. I thought he had gotten quite defensive about his predicament. I was just there to aid his escape. He wasn’t helping out at all. He was a large one and kept lunging at me with his big orange-green-blue claw as I repeatedly tried to tip the cage so he could walk out. I didn’t know then if a large lobster could nip off a finger or worse. Still don’t. Didn’t he know I was his savior?
Then I heard a boat engine above me as I continued struggling with this uncooperative lobster. I once had a wife who was stubborn just like this caged crustacean. Sometimes she too didn’t understand I was doing things for her benefit – like trying to get her to go off the path so we could photograph the Orange Cliffs in Canyonlands National Park. Yeah, it was she who was to pick me up that day when the dive ended.
My heart raced. “Get out!” I wanted to scream but that would not have been a smart thing to do with my mouthpiece feeding me air and all. The engine drone was louder. “Get out!” I silently yelled. Didn’t he see that I had set free his friends and relatives? Was he stupid? Maybe he had been asleep-possibly blind. What was his problem? The boat was almost on top of me. “Get the heck out of there!” I shouted in my head. Finally, I tipped the trap again and opened the netting entrance so he could get out. Ungrateful crustacean! And so off he went but I had a long swim and little air.
Well they had all made it to safety, hopefully having learned something about those wooden boxes whose netting allows easy entry but a nearly impossible exit. Meanwhile my air was below 300 PSI and I had to swim underwater a hundred yards or so to shore. I always wondered if the lobster boat people-nice hardworking guys I was sure- had associated my emergence alone from the water with the no doubt unusual fact that there were no lobsters in the traps. They sure were lucky lobsters that day!
This experience inspired the lobster series of which The Lucky Lobster is the first. Besides writing children’s books, young adult and adult novels, I formerly taught English in the New York City public school system where I had been employed for 13 years until I relocated to New Hampshire in 2013. I now live in Londonderry.

I also have taught English in a village in Thailand. I have traveled extensively in South and Central America, Turkey and India. One of my favorite things to do besides scuba diving is to go on day-long, photographic solo trips in exciting cities such as Mumbai, Istanbul, Lima and Bangkok. I also have a knack for going off the trails in rainforests such as the Amazon and Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica, the latter which resulted in “getting lost” so to speak – it was really a miscalculation that temporarily separated me from my bearings but forcing me to spend three nights in the jungle and on the isolated Pacific Coast – but that is for another time, another story – I’m planning a series of vignettes.

Editorial Reviews

As a New York City elementary teacher, I strongly recommend this delightful and exciting book. Adults and children will enjoy this adventurous tale of three young curious lobsters who explore their world without considering consequences. Readers will empathize with these likable sea creatures in this heartwarming, suspenseful story that conveys with humor the values of kindness to animals, childhood friendship and parental care. Jennifer Taylor’s illustrations are wonderfully engaging. I loved this book.
-Patricia Martone

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful (Amazon)

By Amazon Customer on April 8, 2010

Format: Paperback

I would highly recommend this book to students of all ages. Although I am not vegan, I think the book offers a valuable perspective about animal rights. The lessons that the lobster children learn after disobeying their parents are ones that all children can appreciate, that is, sometimes children can get into very serious trouble by deliberately ignoring their parents’ advice. Children will love this book for its humor, brilliant illustrations and for the valuable story line centering around the welfare of animals.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful

By Levia M. Shanken on April 13, 2010

Format: Paperback

I am a high school biology teacher. Even though my students are older than the suggested reading age for The Lucky Lobsters, I find it effective for them to read during our ecology unit. The group of lobsters provides one example of animals’ happy lifestyle destroyed by the brutal way they are captured and, in the lobsters’ case, boiled alive for human indulgence. Since the story has a happy ending, students also learn that there are alternatives to complying with the status quo and that there are groups dedicated to animal rights. In addition, youngsters are never too old to hear lessons about heeding parents’ and authority figures’ warnings about danger. The stunning, colorful and otherworldly illustrations captivate and help us enter the lobsters’ underwater reality.

– Levia Shanken

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful

By Eugene Harding on April 19, 2010

Format: Paperback

The Lucky Lobsters is a children’s book that will make a youngster think about the foods people eat. It instills empathy towards the plight of animals and helps them understand that all creatures have a family system.
This book is for animal lovers everywhere!


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