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In this evocative wordless book, internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee tells the story of a little girl's day at the beach. Stunning in their simplicity, Lee's illustrations, in just two shades of watercolor, create a vibrant story full of joy and laughter.

New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book 2008

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In this evocative wordless book, internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee tells the story of a little girl's day at the beach. Stunning in their simplicity, Lee's illustrations, in just two shades of watercolor, create a vibrant story full of joy and laughter.

New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In a story of small events, Lee portrays a universal childhood experience of carefree adventure. She evokes the little girl's un-self-conscious joy and elicits tender amusement from the reader.

Simply spectacular.

A book whose rewards multiply with rereading.

perfectly captures a child\'s day at the beach . A simple, well-crafted story of friendship.

In 40 wordless pages, Lee captures the fascination, awe and ongoing sense of wonder that the ocean inspires in each of us, no matter how old.

Becca Zerkin
I am in love with a nameless little girl made of charcoal dust. She is the sparingly drawn heroine of Wave, Suzy Lee's wordless picture book about a day at the beach, and she bursts from the page with vitality…In a story of small events, Lee, a Korean-born author living in Singapore, portrays a universal childhood experience of carefree adventure. She evokes the little girl's un-self-conscious joy and elicits tender amusement from the reader.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Lee's (The Zoo) wordless two-color picture book will charm even readers who have never seen the postwar classics her work explicitly recalls. In it, a mostly solitary girl, conjured with a few broad charcoal strokes, encounters the ocean, all watery splashes and splatters of blue. Lee's spreads of the beach are drawn and painted in black, white and gray on matte pages; the waves are sloshed on with aqua. Dueling textures-dry charcoal, wet paint strokes-mirror the silent conversation between the girl and the waves. The girl, hanging back at first, grows bolder, taunts an enormous wave, disappears under a burst of salt water, emerges drenched, and discovers the gifts the wave leaves behind. Her stick-straight hair beguiles; her expressions morph from suspicion to resolve to joy. The ocean is alive, too, with its own range of feelings; tranquil ripples, flamenco-like explosions of spray, spatters of foam. The book's oblong shape gives Lee a dramatic expanse of beach to work with, almost like a stage; five seagulls form a Greek chorus, advancing and retreating together with the girl. A book whose rewards multiply with rereading. All ages. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
This beautifully illustrated, wordless picture book will serve as a wonderful starting point for story and language development for young children. Older youngsters should also enjoy making up a story to go with the pictures. The charcoal/acrylic drawings use black, grey, and blue to narrate a little girl's encounter with the ocean's waves at the beach. Her body language and facial expressions draw us into her increasingly bold actions with the water. On one page she even sticks out her tongue at an approaching wave while the seabirds fly rapidly away. But the sea is not to be mocked and suddenly the child is completely engulfed by a huge wave. Her confused and bedraggled appearance is perfectly executed, only to be rapidly replaced with wonderment as she discovers what is left behind—lovely shells, starfish, and pebbles. Soon her mother appears and it is time to reluctantly say goodbye and head for home. An added bonus is found on the endpapers that depict numerous treasures to be found on the beach. This can lead to further exploration in order to identify what is pictured. Definitely add this to the first purchase list. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- Lee's wordless picture book perfectly captures a child's day at the beach. Followed by a flock of seagulls, a girl runs delightedly to where waves break on the shore. She surveys the sea and together they begin a silent dance. She chases it as it recedes, runs from it as it surges, splashes in it when it calms, taunts it as it rises, and finally succumbs to it crashing down upon her and discovers what treasures the waves can bring. A panoramic trim size beautifully supports the expansiveness of the beach, and Lee uses the gutter to effectively represent the end of the shoreline-until the girl crosses that line. Loosely rendered charcoal and acrylic images curl and flow like water and reflect playfulness, especially in the facial and bodily expressions of the child and seagulls. The use of blue in an otherwise gray-toned world calls attention to the ocean, which rivals the girl as a main character in this story. Wave is best shared in small groups for the younger set, but also suited for solitary enjoyment by older children. A simple, well-crafted story of friendship.-Kim T. Ha, Elkridge Branch Library, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Five gulls and a little girl play with the tide in this beach adventure that lacks text but provides plot aplenty. Nineteen beautiful blue-and-gray 24" x 7" acrylic-and-charcoal illustrations tell the story sublimely. A line of birds follows the barefoot girl to the edge of the shore, and the gently rolling tide chases all six of them several feet up the beach. A dance begins; forward, back. The composition uses the gutter to great effect, placing the gray-sketched girl and gulls on the left-hand page while the liquid blue ocean laps ever closer on the right. The girl splashes and plays in the shallow waters, birds swirling in the sky above her. Then a huge wave rears up and tumbles over her. For a minute, she's stunned, then awestruck and excited to find the beach littered with beautiful shells that weren't there before, blue ocean saturating gray land. Gulls in the sky react happily as well, wheeling against the now-azure sky. When mother comes to fetch her, the girl gives the ocean a secret wave goodbye. Simply spectacular. (Picture book. 3-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811859240
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 4/16/2008
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 176,464
  • Age range: 3 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.25 (w) x 12.37 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzy Lee's books have been published and exhibited worldwide. She wrote and illustrated The Black Bird, Mirror, La Revanche des Lapins, and Alice in Wonderland. Born in Seoul, Korea, she currently lives and works in Singapore.

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Interviews & Essays

Chronicle Books: Why did you decide to do a picture book without any words? Have all your picture books been wordless? Is there an artistic philosophy behind that?
Suzy Lee: My books are mostly wordless. Even the books that include text have less than 10 sentences throughout. It is not particularly intentional, but it is due to my approach of making books; I tend to think in visual images. Often a story comes in a visual form at first. And the story built by the series of pictures usually does not need to have any words added later on. Some stories are best told without words.

Except for cases when I collaborate with other writers, I believe pictures do not need to “illustrate” other things. They are meaningful as they are; wordless books have their own logic. They are fulfilled by the images themselves and work in different ways from text-oriented picture books. Wordless books are unique because only artists can make them.

When there are no words, you can see more. You cannot miss any visual clues and details in order to figure out a story. When there is no sound, you can hear better. You hear more vividly in a dream because it comes from your memory. I believe if you ever have been to the sea or lake, you will hear the sound of waves from the pages of Wave.

CB: What was the inspiration behind Wave?
SL: Dazzling cyan-colored sea/strong sunlight/a distinct shadow on the white sand/the busy seagulls/the same sea wherever it is/the same children wherever they are/the same play with waves/the shoes already wet/a girl wearing a wet drooped dress/a smiling mom with a parasol/a day enjoyed until totally exhausted/an unexpected gift from the sea/beautiful seashells on a beach/the seashore where only I and the wave existed…

Or, I just wanted to make a book in a really long horizontal shape, and I just chose a story to fit in!

CB: You clearly like to play with the concept of what makes a book. In Wave, the use of the book’s gutter acts as a dividing line between the beach world and the wave’s world. And the use of color reinforces that aspect of the book. Do you have any thoughts to share on this concept?
SL: A book is a very interesting medium. Readers are never told to read a book in a certain way, but they tend to read from left to right, turn the pages to figure out the story, and ignore the gutter of the book even though it is clearly disturbing the whole spread image. Even though there are only three colors used on the pages of Wave (which isn’t a realistic depiction of beach colors), readers may feel that they are looking at the beach on one fine day. These unspoken agreements between authors and readers on how to read a book are the vital aspects to realizing a picture book.

I use these agreements and conventions hiding in the fictional narrative. I am interested in a story that is only possible because it is in a book form. Elements of the book form are often included in my stories. In Wave, a fold between two pages of the book is not just where the pages are tied in, but it’s also a place for the story to continue.

When a girl decides to find out what’s happening on the other side of the page in Wave, she crosses the book’s gutter. She is absorbed into the physical center of the book and then emerges from it like Alice, when she comes out from the mirror in Through the Looking-Glass. The fold can be both a border between the imaginary book world and the real world. The book’s gutter can also be a psychological line in the girl’s mind—a line we all encounter when in front of a wave—knowing that if you cross the line, you’ll get soaked!

I hope readers can find something new every time they open up the book. Wave is a simple picture book, but there is a lot to find beneath the surface!

CB: Wave can be enjoyed on a couple of levels. On the one hand, there’s the surface level of it being about a day at the beach, and on the other, a deeper story of friendship. Do you have any thoughts to share on this?
SL: The seagulls find the girl and her mom, and follow them into the first page of the book. The gulls appear on every page, responding to the girl's feelings and action. The seagulls look somewhat indifferent in the beginning, and keep a certain distance from the girl the entire time. The seagulls and the girl get closer, but they never touch each other. The seagulls and the girl finally share a joyous moment in the water, and then the seagulls disappear into the scenery of the sea.

The wave doesn’t say anything but just has a good time with the girl. And then it brings the surprising gift from the far ocean. The girl leaves the sea, and the sea remains calm. I think this is the way nature and children form a friendship. They enjoy each other but never step on each other, and finally, leave with only the happy memory of one another.

CB: You just had a baby boy. As an artist and book creator how do you think having a son may impact you?
SL: I finished Wave just one week before I gave birth to my baby, Sahn. So I dedicated this book to him. I guess every time I see this book, I will remember myself, with a big baby belly, working on this book and imagining what kind of baby would come to me.

I believe having my son will have an impact on many things that I couldn’t imagine. I hope Sahn’s childlike eyes affect my way of seeing the world. But at the same time, I hope I can maintain my own perspective as an artist, not dominated too much by motherhood!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2014

    I love this book!  Having grown up at the beach and then having

    I love this book!  Having grown up at the beach and then having children and grandchildren, I appreciate the way this author / illustrator
     captures  the relationship between a reticent  young child and the playful return of each wave. I see my own granddaughter and her mother
    on the beach in this book and my 2 year old granddaughter thinks this book was written about her. It's a "must have" book if you have ever
    been lucky enough to dip your toes in the ocean. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2011

    Wave is a fun book for children to read. They can use their imagination to tell their own story.Check it out.

    Children and parents should read "wave" together. Wave is a book that help children to become imagination and thinking skills.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A must for your youngster...a wordless classic

    My 3 & 5 year olds adore this book. We love to visit the beach, so watching the little girl in this story experience all the emotions of stepping out into the water, closer & closer each time. A little cautious, fearless, soggy & appreciative of the lovely shell treasures that the mighty ocean has left for her & the gulls. A great way to foster imaginative storytelling, observe details & emotions & remember good times at the shore.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A wonderful wordless book for classroom or home library

    Any child who has been to the beach can relate to playing tag with the tide. A great story any child can enjoy with the wordless pages. I especially liked the effect of the blue for the water on the otherwise black and white drawn illustrations.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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