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Review: La ola

Told without words, this is the story of a girl spending a day at the beach. The astonishing simplicity of the illustrations, drawn in shades of watercolour, create a vibrant and unforgettable story filled with joy and laughter.


By:  Alex Molina
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The Wave
Author: Suzy Lee
Publisher: Barbara Fiore
Year: 2008
Nationality: Korean
Stands out for: its ability to transmit emotions without words

How can a day at the beach be so much fun? Maybe it’s because the illustrator Suzy Lee knows how to use colour and understands the secrets of portraying movement on paper. Or perhaps it’s simply that the story reminds us of our own childhood.

La ola (translating as The wave) is a journey into solitary daydreams in black, white and blue. Actually, more than a dream, it’s more like waking up in the morning, defending yourself from the world and its daily humdrum by imagining a time when you were only five-years-old; playing on the seashore of an abandoned beach with the sounds of the waves breaking and the seagulls circling. (Yes, somehow this Korean illustrator manages to make her drawings be heard.) Don’t you remember when everything seemed huge and marvellous?

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Her illustrations have the faint quality of silent cinema, not just because of their silence, but also because of their ability to communicate using simplicity as a tool. Lee creates small characters who manage to evoke life itself.

The Black Bird and My Bright Atelier, other creations from this artist, share certain traits with La Ola (The wave): all use a reduced palate of colours and depict her now characteristic hallmark - little girls with dark hair.

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