Today I review a lyrical new picture book debut from another of the amazing 2020 Debut Crew members, Nell Cross Beckerman.

Title: Down Under the Pier

Written by: Nell Cross Beckerman

Illustrated by: Rachell Sumpter

Cameron Kids, April 2020

For ages: four and up

Themes/topics: marine life, intertidal zone, wonder

First spread:

Up on the pier, we ride the giant Ferris wheel, we scream on the roller coaster, we gobble clouds of cotton candy.

Wood planks creak as we walk in the sun.

Summary (from the publisher):

There’s lots of fun to be had up on the pier—the Ferris wheel, cotton candy, the carousel—but it’s down under the pier, at low tide, where the real magic can be found.

Children are invited to experience the fantastical realm of the natural world, from mussels and barnacles to kelp and seashells, all hiding mere steps away from the lights and games of the pier.

A brief guide to some common creatures of the intertidal community can be found at the back of the book, the opportunity for learning a welcome supplement to Beckerman’s poetic adventure and Sumpter’s equally enchanting illustrations.

Why I adore this book:

DOWN UNDER THE PIER is picture book magic! With a perfect marriage of vivid, lyrical language and dreamy images, it transports the reader to one of those endless summertime, seaside days—above the pier where there’s cotton candy, amusement park rides, and creaking wooden planks. And then under the pier where’s there’s a quieter, more natural, kind of magic—sea spray and creatures clinging to pilings, crabs and tug-of-war with ropes of kelp. The text beautifully captures the enchanting setting and the wonder it evokes in the children playing there. And lines like, “We inhale sea spray and squish slimy sand through toes” are a joy to read aloud and provide strong sensory details. I found the watercolor illustrations breathtakingly beautiful, simply dreamy. This book will be read again and again by kids (and adults) who want to be transported. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

(For a colossal collection of picture book reviews, please visit this page on Susanna’s site:

7 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Down Under the Pier

  1. I just tweeted about this book, and cannot wait to read it! I love the cover illustration and the concept. Combined with lyrical text, and I’m sold! I just suggested it to the San Francisco Public Library. They did not have it on order. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds amazing. That cover is so enchanting and bring back tons of memories.
    My siblings and I spent more time under the piers than at sny of the games. I think I’m going to love this book. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the juxtaposition of the “built-up” human world and the natural wonders under the pier. Thanks for highlighting this book today – a time when I think we all can benefit from the solace & beauty of the natural world.

    Liked by 1 person

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