by Suzy Lee
There are no words to describe a child’s first time at the ocean. So author-artist Suzy Lee creates a wordless book to capture that moment. Children see only the wide expanse of the beach, drawn with charcoal pencil and set off by the overlong pages, which emphasize the horizon line. Ideal for youngsters who haven’t quite mastered reading on their own yet, the book inspires children to make up their own story, as they observe the dance between a girl and a wave. The young heroine leaves her mother’s side to approach the water’s edge, and she gingerly taunts and teases the wave. Meanwhile, the wave--a blue wash of water, the only color in the book--quietly slides toward her. As the girl grows more courageous, so does the wave. But the wave stops each time smack in the middle of the illustration, at the book’s gutter (where the pages meet in the book’s binding). Until the girl goes too far, and ventures into the wave’s territory. Suddenly, the wave becomes a great blue frothing fountain that overtakes the entire double-page illustration. When the wave recedes, the whole world is blue, sky and sea alike, and it leaves behind a bounty of salty treasures, starfish and seashells. It’s clear from her wave goodbye that the girl will be back another day to begin the game all over again.