Wave is a sunny, sandy, and sweet story about this little bit at the beach. Oh yeah, and there are no words. Suzy Lee is a master of the wordless picture book. Shadow and Mirror are equally as beautiful. One of the great things about wordless books is that it doesn’t take a lot of extra printing to do various other translations! {This is probably not true.  I really have no idea what it takes to print a book in another language. I just love this image. Big shock. Former Linguistics major, that’s right. Former Linguistics major who writes about wordless books in back to back posts?! Ha. I do love words…eyeball is my favorite.}

Before I even cracked the cover, I was so drawn to the shape and scale of this book. Wave is a wide rectangle, shorter than it is tall. It’s definitely an unusual shape for a picture book, but I love it. When you open it, it is even wider (duh, obviously), which is a perfect frame for this story about a shoreline. What oceanview is bound by a squatty rectangle in real life? None! You can see forever, and that’s the feeling you will get when you spread open this book.


Simply enough, contrast happens when two elements are different.  This barefoot, playful little girl flirts with and taunts the wave as it creeps in and out.  She is grayscale and the ocean is bright blue. Not only did Suzy Lee not need words, she also didn’t need a lot of colors. And still. Gorgeous.

An illustration without contrast in some form confuses the eye{ball} and we don’t know where to look. Without superfluous colors and details on the page, all that matters is the girl and her wave. An interesting use of contrast here is also the way Suzy Lee uses the gutter to separate and contrast these two main characters.

That’s the gutter there in the center. It’s the margin of the pages, near the binding. Until {spoiler alert} the big splash, the little girl lives on one side of the gutter, and the wave lives on the other.  This is such a smart way to use a naturally occurring line and make it work. Very clever layout. Very vibrant girl. Very wet wave.

{all images from Suzy Lee’s website}


  • Posted September 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    This is so cute. And I love that it is all pictures.

  • Posted September 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I kind of want to be her. But I think I am too tall and have to wear shoes in real life.

4 Trackbacks

  • By Black and White « Design of the Picture Book on October 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

    […] I particularly love the complex lines that both constrain and connect the four quadrants. {The gutter serves as one of the lines. So […]

  • By For Just One Day « Design of the Picture Book on November 10, 2011 at 7:57 am

    […] back to each spread as one piece. The intentional differences on either side of the gutter create stunning proportion, which increases the visual interest of For Just One […]

  • By Shadow « Design of the Picture Book on January 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    […] Lee once again uses the gutter as a sort of wall between what is real and what is imagined. Ordinary objects on the left side […]

  • By Some Odds and Ends « Design of the Picture Book on October 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

    […] one more thing. Check out Matthew Cordell’s blog post highlighting his use of the gutter in his latest release, Hello! […]