Pool by JiHyeon Lee
A boy in goggles surveys the crowded pool before him. Floats, oars, laughter, screeching, frowns confront him with virtually no room for him to jump into the fray.
In spite of the unruly, bobbing throng, the boy takes a leap of faith anyway, delves deep beneath the dangling legs, feet and fins, boat bottoms, loose goggles … and comes upon another intrepid solo diver: the girl sports a jaunty red suit and matching goggles. Together, the dynamic duo explore an infinitely fish-y playground filled with wondrous surprises – red, blue, small, medium, long, large, behemoth, all.
Given Lee’s Korean heritage, the daring young couple might be an oblique homage to South Korea’s disappearing haenyeo – literally ‘sea women’ – who, for hundreds of years, generation after generation, have made a living harvesting sea creatures with virtually no specialized equipment. Their ability to dive long and deep is a remarkable phenomenon not found anywhere else in the world.
But back in our Pool, at some point this pair will need to come up for air. As they emerge from below to above, they smile shyly to each other, recognizing they’ve become friends. As for everyone else in the pool … well, they have a whole different story they’re going to be telling.
Lee’s ingenious, gleefully delightful art indeed speaks volumes without the need for even a single word, rendering her debut thoroughly accessible across the world. Wherever you are, whatever your background, that first open page will surely be beckoning you to dive right in.
Published: 2015 (United States)