Monday, July 27, 2009

A Day at the Beach: Wave by Susie Lee

The essence of what a picture book should be--Suzy Lee's brilliant, beautiful Wave, a story without words which speaks volumes, recreates the joy of a first encounter with the ocean's waves.

Executed in simple, almost primitive, charcoal pencil lines in dusky gray and black against a bright white background, the pages are lit up with the brilliant but soft blue of the ocean, its motion rendered evocatively with simple variations of color and swirls of foam. Into this scene comes a small girl, sturdy legs and windblown hair rendered in a few deft lines, watched over benevolently by her mother from the shade of her umbrella and by a line of five seagulls facing windward.

Approaching the edge, the girl retreats hastily from the first breaking wave, but she and the gulls quickly regroup as she ventures into the wet sand and puts a tentative toe into the wavelet as it rolls backward. Reassured, she splashes and twirls in the shallows.

But suddenly a giant wave begins to roll in. Temporarily frozen in the face of the curling, looming wave, girl and birds turn and flee up the shore's slope. At what she thinks a safe distance, the girl turns and saucily sticks out her tongue at the rogue wave. "You can't get me," she seems to be saying.

Then the wave breaks all over her, in a mass of roiling, splashing, swirling blue water, and just as hastily recoils, leaving the girl drenched and sitting, bottom sinking into the soft, wet sand, with her hair dripping and her legs stretched out before her.

But all round she sees what the wave has left for her--dozens of shells and even a living starfish--and she soon is gathering the bounty and calling to her mom to see what the sea has brought her. As her mother, umbrella folded and beachbag packed, comes down to the marge to gather her daughter and her treasures, the girl returns the starfish to the shallows, and then, turning to wave goodbye to the ocean and soaring gulls, heads home, salty, sandy, and happy.

It's everything a first day at the beach should be. Wave, is a little gem of a book which will appeal to all ages for its spare, sheer beauty and its wordless portrayal of childhood joy.

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  • "Wave" changed the mind of a 3-1/2 yr. old. He really focused on the pictures with Grandma, and that very day played in the bubbling waves at Cape May. Precious memories! Gigi

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:33 AM  

  • Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for your comment! It's is easy to forget how frightening the ocean can be to the very young.

    This book works on many levels, but as a way to introduce the sea to young ones, it has quite a bit to offer.

    By Blogger GTC, at 9:22 AM  

  • We are publishing Suzy Lee's newest picture book "Mirror" in May 2010. I would love to get you a copy GTC so you could consider it for a review. Let me know where to send!
    Laura Downhour

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:31 PM  

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