Written and Illustrated by Suzy Lee
Chronicle Books, 2008
The plot in a nutshell: A little girl has a showdown with a wave
On what appears to be her very first day at the beach, our main character runs close up to the ocean and looks at it. When a wave rolls up the beach toward her, she nervously steps back. Then she roars at it and another wave crashes on shore. As it recedes, her curiosity takes over and she dips a foot in the water. Happily, she splashes around in the still water, kicking it up at the nearby seagulls. Then she sees a big wave coming to the shore and she runs back to the sand, sticking out her tongue at it. But it breaks hard, drenching the girl with water. After it pulls back, she notices shells on the beach and she collects them. She’s playing in the shallow water when her mother comes to get her and as they leave, she waves goodbye to the ocean. And I guess it waves back.
Author/illustrator Suzy Lee takes the ridiculously simple idea of a little girl on a beach and gives it life, motion and humor in this wonderful wordless picture book. The seagulls on the beach become her sidekicks, mirroring some of what she is doing and adding an element of humor into the pictures. The book’s layout cleverly uses the spine as a dividing line, and the little girl stays mostly on the left page, while the ocean stays on the right, so that when she gets up the courage to step into it, she is stepping across the page. The artwork is done in charcoal and acrylics, entirely in shades of blue and black, with just minimal suggestions of anything other than the girl, the waves and the seagulls. I really enjoyed this one.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that finding your balance with nature is the best way to enjoy it to its fullest.