by Suzy Lee


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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811859240
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date: 04/16/2008
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 206,449
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 12.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About 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.


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!

Customer Reviews

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Wave 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
aconant05 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This wordless book captures the encounter between a little girl and the ocean. The art is beautiful and the contrast between the black and white girl and the blue ocean as they slowly meet each other really tells the story as the colors merge.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The dust jacket says it all, "A sunny day. A curious little girl. A playful wave." This is a delightful, wordless narrative of a young girl's experience at the beach. Like children everywhere, she is alternately brave, fearful, experimental, playful, defiant, and contemplative when facing the ocean's never-ending march to the shore. The wave has its own moods as well - tentative, playful, menacing, calm, peaceful. Seagulls and a remotely watchful adult add interest, but do not detract from the featured cast - a girl and a wave. The illustrations are simply, yet expressively rendered in shades of gray and blue, created in charcoal and acrylics. A perfect book for sharing.
elainevbernal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Suzy Lee, Wave, CA: Chronicle Books, 1986.Wave by Suzy Lee perfectly captures a little girl's day at the beach and her playful encounter with an ocean wave. As the girl gradually develops a curiosity about the wave and its mechanics of going back and forth on the shore, she increasingly becomes more and more confident in interacting and playing in the wave. The wave is illustrated with a lot of action and movement, and the tension between the wave and the girl makes it look like they are playing with each other. Ultimately, she pokes fun at the wave, and the wave crashes on to her - but as a surprise, the little girl is perfectly safe with a multitude of beautiful sea shells to take. What I liked best about this book was how the seagulls were mimicking and complementing the girl's actions, which wonderfully magnifies her experience with the wave and suggests a feeling of security in numbers. This book sends a great message to children ages 5-9 about the risks and rewards of trying new experiences.
curiousbutterpants on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A simple, evocative book that relies only on Lee's illustrations to convey the entire story. When a little girl visits the beach, a simple back-and-forth friendship with a wave begins - and as the action on the beach unfolds, we're welcomed into this entrancing, almost Keaton-esque, play of emotions. This distinctly non-eventful event of visiting the beach gives way, like all the good silent cinema of old, to a fantastic and emotional experience. It reminds us to delight in life, the big things and the small. Experience every bit of life fully, exactly like a young toddler might a wave.Lee's book is, in one word, magnificent. From the beginning when you take this long, horizontal book off the shelf, you know it will be different. Lee uses a simple yet effective pallette of primarily whites, blues, and blacks,
pumabeth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simple, yet telling pictures, wordlessly relate a girl¿s day at the seashore. Endearing and charming, the scenes contain little amusements such as the birds running from the incoming waves and the girl waving goodbye to the wave at the end. Uses ¿ Children can read this story to one another even when unable to read yet. In a second reading, a class or storytime group can discuss how they know what is happening in the story. Children can also write their own words for the book.
TeacherLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lee, Suzy. Wave. (2008). San Francisco: Chronicle Books. The illustrations in Wave show the story of a little girl who makes friends with the waves at the beach one day. At first she is afraid to get too close to the water, but as the wave moves back, she follows it and dances around in the water. She is knocked over by a big wave, but doesn¿t mind since it has brought her gifts: sea shells and a starfish. Soon her mother walks over from where she¿s been watching her; it¿s time to go home. The illustrations are in charcoal and acrylics and are digitally manipulated. They very clearly show the back and forth pattern of the waves, and they express the little girl¿s playfulness well. The artist skillfully expresses the friendship that develops between the little girl and the wave with such images as the movement of the wave, the appearance of seashells surrounding the little girl, and the little girl¿s small hand waving good-bye.Comparison to Welcome to the Zoo While both Wave and Welcome to the Zoo! tell a story with pictures and without words, Wave tells a more complex story than Welcome to the Zoo! does. Wave has a theme and a plot that has a climax and resolution, while Welcome to the Zoo¿s story is limited and its purpose is to feature the startling scenes in its illustrations.
Pusparani on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Wave¿ is a wonderful wordless picture book which leave a plenty room for young readers with imaginations. There are no words in this book, yet it speaks more than the words can say. I love this sweet story and want to keep it in my heart as my childhood back then is also full of joy in a small island in Indonesia, Madura island. Wordless picture book can be seen from any point of view readers will enjoy most. The younger children might see it is a story about a little girl going to beach with her mother. For older children might see it as a play between a little girl and waves which show each power to one another. For me as adult, it is an adorable story of a friendship between a little girl and a wave that grows beautifully as they play, challenge until magically know each other.Done in acrylics and charcoal, Lee¿s artworks drive a movement as if there is a conversation between the little girl and the wave. The thin black lines separate from clear white sky and blue with some gray of the ocean. A double-page spread highlights a powerful interaction between the two. I would recommend this picture book for all ages.
dreamer2000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
good story about the child fighting with the waves as they come in and out and then get her wet at the beach.
suzukibeane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Without any words, Wave is a book that beckons to be read. The pull of the book occurs at first sight. Its uncommon, horizontal format unfolds to emphasize the vast landscape of the beach, the setting of the story. This book is truly a study of beauty through simplicity. There are no words used for narration, dialogue, or sound effects. Furthermore, unlike other books about children spending a day at the ocean, Wave is not concerned with why the characters go to the beach or what they plan to do there. This story begins quite directly on the title page with an illustration of a woman and girl on an empty beach. With the first page turn, the adult is no longer in the picture and what the reader is left with is the tentative first approach of the girl to the ocean. So begins the story of the relationship between a curious girl, a playful wave, and a sidekick flock of seagulls. There is a universal nature to this book. The limited color palate of black, white, and blue harkens back to color separation lithographic printing and the era of early color picture books. The richness of the images would appeal equally to the youngest of children and the most design conscious adults. Even though there are no words, the emotions expressed by the characters are made quite clear in the images. The dialogue of the story is left to the imagination of the reader, which frees it from language and cultural barriers.
jscheper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This wordless picture book is about a young girls experience at the beach. She is curious and scared and finally finds the wave brings wonderful adventures. The illustrations are done in muted blues, black, and grays, The illustrations are rendered in charcoal and acrylics. The book is longer and thinner than the standard picture book which adds to the adventure. The girl in the book is very real and her emotions are shown through facial expressions and body movement. This is a very cute book and would be a great addition to a young child's library, be it a child who is not yet reading or a child with an imagination to add more to the story. This would also be a good book to show to a child and have them add their own dialogue or story.
PeterSinclair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book because the pictures move, and that progresses the wordless story nicely. I like the bird watching the girl. When the girl jumps in the water and then sticks her tongue out are funny and engaging scenes.
KellyBryan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is no need for words in this book because the illustrations are so powerful. The only color against the black and white is the blue of the ocean. It demonstrates the power, beauty, wonder, and ambiguity of the ocean. You can imagine yourself at the beach running away from each wave as it crashes to shore. You can use these illustrations to have each student write their own story to match the pictures. It would be interesting to see each student's interpretation of the illustrations.
sharty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The drawings appear to be simple charcoal, but the expressions on the little girl¿s face and in her body are remarkable as she looks at, tiptoes away from, taunts, contemplates, points to, commands to stop, then frolics, kicks, seems terrified of, runs from, teases, and is attacked by ocean. Clearly she is delighted when she sees the treasure, in the form of shells, the giant wave has left behind. The detail of the seagulls following her moves and moods is also simple, yet precise. The only color in these illustrations is the items that are wet. In the beginning, this is just the calm ocean, but as the wave crashes, more things have touches of or are drenched in blue. This book is remarkable in the detail of emotion coming through simple illustrations.
kmacneill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a little girl's day at the beach and the interaction between her and the waves. I loved this book! The art was so simple yet it was able to tell a whole story without words. This book is a great way for students to tell a story aloud using the book's pictures as a guide and their own words. It can be used to teach students how to tell a story without any words. I think this book is actually suitable for all ages. The amount of teaching opportunities that this book presents can be used in almost any classroom. I think reluctant readers would love using this book and making their own story.
mmontet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The girl in this book plays with the wave on the beach more and more until the girl gets soaked by the wave. This wordless picture book can let a child's imagination run wild.
CLDoyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Use with Kindergarten through 5th grade, older children could write their own narrative for the story. Story follows a little girl that goes to the ocean and plays with the waves. At first she is hesitant, but then she realizes that the waves won't hurt her. Addresses the issue of being scared of something and then realizing that it won't hurt you. Uses in the classroom could be creating their own dialogue for the story and sharing with the class what is happing in the story.
dchaikin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little girl explores the waves at the beach. No words, wonderful illustrations. I really enjoyed letting my 4-year-old tell the story. Loved it!
jacki-jo More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Children and parents should read "wave" together. Wave is a book that help children to become imagination and thinking skills.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
GinaRosaMarie More than 1 year ago
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.