Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep

h1 April 14th, 2022 by jules


In Elaine M. Alexander’s Anglerfish (Candlewick, April 2022), illustrated by Fiona Fogg, readers meet and follow a female anglerfish. We meet her “far, far below the ocean’s surface” as she glides through the water, looking for food. Given that she swims in what is called the midnight zone, a deep black dominates these spreads, the anglerfish’s bioluminescent fishing rod lighting up the waters.

“She is a fearsome creature,” we read. “She is the Seadevil of the Deep.” Though we meet her where no sunlight appears, in the second spread we pop back to the ocean’s surface to see how her life began. As a baby, she lived in the light, avoiding danger and death, and dined on plankton. After three years pass and she grows in size — and that fishing rod appears — she begins the descent to the ocean’s depths. We learn about her dark skin, allowing for camouflage; we learn that, once she reaches the ocean’s depths, she buries herself in the mud and sand in order to confuse prey; and we learn about her eating habits. (Her stomach distends, and she swallows her meals whole. I will not forget this anglerfish fact for a while.) When a small male anglerfish appears, we witness it absorb himself into her body (and I will not forget this anglerfish fact for a loooong while), part of the mating ritual and fertilization. We see her release her fertilized eggs.

The book’s generous backmatter includes more details about ocean zones, how species adapt there, bioluminescence, and how anglerfish hunt and reproduce. The book also includes a glossary, index, and a brief look at other species of anglerfish.

This is an appealing science book; Alexander fills it with fascinating facts about anglerfish and the deep sea. Its pacing is smart; the choices around composition, including the occasional use of vertical panels, add a measured visual pacing and rhythm to the anglerfish’s tale. Fogg’s illustrations bring the darkest part of the deep sea to life with accuracy, drama, and a visual richness. In one spread, pictured below, she brings readers right up close to the anglerfish and its teeth. Exhilarating.

Here are some spreads. …


“Anglerfish did not always reside in shadow. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“She swallows her meal whole. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Anglerfish is ready now. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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ANGLERFISH: THE SEADEVIL OF THE DEEP. Text copyright © 2022 by Elaine M. Alexander. Illustrations copyright © 2022 by Fiona Fogg and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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