Wave is the second book in Korean artist Suzy Lee’s Border Trilogy, the first being Mirror (2003) and the third being Shadow (2010).
The trilogy’s title arose because the gutter of each book – the bit that runs down the centre fold – frequently represents the border between reality and fantasy.
The storyline is straightforward. A little girl spends the day at the beach with her mother and discovers the pleasure – and scariness – of paddling in the sea.
At first she is wary of it, running away when gentle waves come rippling towards her. But soon she gets braver and even dares to splash in and kick the water.
Accompanying her is a group of five birds. These become her virtual ‘friends’, sharing in her discoveries and mirroring her responses.
If the little girl is excited, so are the birds. If she is unsure, they are too. And if she is thoroughly scared and just wants to run back up the beach to safety, then they do as well.
When finally a big wave sweeps right over her and leaves her stranded on the sand, the little girl is taken aback. But almost immediately she and the birds are delighted to find some rather special treasure the wave has left behind.
Using a simple palette of blues and blacks, in digitally manipulated charcoal and acrylics, Lee beautifully conjures up both the thrill of playing in the sea and the strong emotions such a powerful force can engender.
Wave was named The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book 2008. In 2022, Suzy Lee won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration.