Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Pier at the End of the World

The Pier at the End of the World

Paul Erickson
Photographer: Andrew Martinez
Nonfiction picture book
For ages 6 to 8
Tilbury House Publishers, 2014   ISBN: 978-0884483823

Long ago the pier was a busy place where fisherman unloaded their catch from their boats. People came and went, and voices called out to each other sharing their news and stories. Now the pier no longer rings with human voices. The only sound that is heard is the sound of the sea gurgling around the bases of the pilings. The wooden pilings are rotting and “crumbling into the sea,” their time of usefulness over.

The sun is rising over the water and by its golden glow we see that though people have “abandoned the pier,” animals most certainly have not. The submerged wooden pilings and the pier’s stone foundations are home to all kinds of bizarre and lovely creatures. Here, in the green murky water, plankton float and soon many of them will be snatched up by hungry predators.

Here, as the sun rises higher in the sky, we see a wolfish, a predator with teeth so sharp and jaws so strong that it can eat sea urchins, spines, hard exoskeleton and all. Not far away pretty looking sea anemones wait for prey to swim near their waving tentacles, each one of which is armed with stingers.

As the sun passes the zenith and slopes down into the afternoon, sea stars of all colors trundle along the sea floor. Using their arms, these creatures pull open the shells of clams and other shellfish to feast on the soft animals inside.

When the sun dips below the horizon, other creatures such as the redfish come out of hiding. So too does the American lobster, which can use its massive claws to fight others of its kind and to catch and tear up its food.

In this beautifully presented book we see how many communities of sea creatures make their home in a place that humans have abandoned. We watch from sunrise to sunset as these creatures go about their lives, and we learn about their behavior and the biology. Many of these animals have adapted in interesting ways so that they can live in their changeable watery world.

At the back of the book the author provides readers with more information about the animals that live under the pier. There is a section that looks at the very small occupants of this environment, and then we revisit the animals that we met in the book “in order of appearance” to find out how big each species is and what it eats.