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Monday, May 25, 2015

Pool, by JiHyeon Lee. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2015. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"What happens
when two shy
children meet at
a very crowded

Dive in and find

He looks so lonely standing on the side of the pool, goggles over his eyes and swim cap on his head. There is no one near him; he is just staring at the water. The pool is huge, and not at all welcoming, at first glance.

As a group of other swimmers barrel past  him, he stands and watches. They look loud and boisterous; the reader hears nothing. There are no words. Soon, the pool is packed with people, toys, tubes and float boards. There doesn't seem to be an inch of space left for him. He sits at the side and dangles his feet in the cool, blue water.

The rowdies remain rowdy, and pushy. Rather than find a space for himself on the surface, he dives down - far below everyone who is floating above him. Suddenly, another swimmer comes into view: a girl. Together, they enter an imaginary world filled with curious water creatures. They play among them, and soon find themselves following along. It is a water wonderland.

When they finally resurface, they get out on one side of the pool while the rest exit on the opposite side. Removing their goggles and caps, they smile.  In the final spread another young swimmer startled when she looks back at the pool.

JiHyeon Lee, in her debut picture book, does not add color to her images until the two meet below the surface. As they swim deeper into their imagined world, the colors become more vibrant. The fish are distinctive and unusual. They are unafraid. It is true: friends can be found in the most unexpected of places.

Proof that you don't need text to tell a beautiful story, this is an amazing debut. I will eagerly await a second book!

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