My fondest childhood memories of the ocean are of my summer visits to Kabo, Japan. Kabo was the tiny village where my mom spent much of her childhood (although she was born in the States) on an island called O-oshima off of Honshu (the main/largest island of Japan). My sister, two cousins, and I had the entire beach to ourselves. While my mother and my aunt stood knee deep in the water, holding parasols to keep the sun off their skin, we kids cavorted in the sea, ran up and down the sandy shore collecting fabulous shells, and climbed on the concrete blocks piled by the retaining wall (to protect against the waves). The sun turned our skin brown as dark caramel. Sometimes we’d see flying fish leap out of the waves as we bobbed along on the waves on inflatable rings. We were unafraid of anything, except maybe the kelp that would tangle around our legs. My best memories from childhood took place on that beach, on that island.
I came across this lovely picture book recently and had to purchase it, not for my niece or any young children, but for myself:
Wave by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books/2008) is a wordless masterpiece of a little girl’s first encounter with the ocean.
The artist captures perfectly all the curiosity, trepidation, surprise, and joy of discovering the beach and the sea. The illustrations are mostly black and white, with the ocean painted in vibrant blues. It’s everything I remember about my early experiences with the ocean. I absolutely love this book! Wave isn’t just pretty pictures, but is a story unfolding page by page. No words are necessary. it’s times like these that I so wish I were an artist and able to captures memories and emotions with illustrations.
I’m keeping this book close at hand so I can enjoy it over and over.
Check out the artist’s website – she has created other books, too. I’m going to search out the one called The Z00 – although it’s in Korean, I’ll bet I can figure out the story anyway.