Friday, January 10, 2014

PPBF: The Old Woman & the Wave

TitleThe Old Woman & the Wave
Author/Illustrator: Shelley Jackson
Publisher/Date: DK Publishing, Inc./1998
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4+
Themes: change, taking risks, companionship

Opening: "Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived under a wave."

Synopsis: (from

The wave loves the old woman. That is why it waits on dry land, curled over her house, bent low to hear her every word. Most of these are grumpy, though, for the old woman has lived her whole life beneath the wave and therefore can see nothing good in it. Her roof is stuck like a pincushion with umbrellas, which she hopes will stem the drippings and droppings from above. But no. She and the wave go on with their lives until a wanderer appears and sees not the bother in the wondrous wave, but the possibilities. And then the old woman can see them, too, and together with her old dog Bones she flows away toward the blue and distant mountains, surging and plunging, swirling and climbing in a washtub boat she's had handy just in case the wave ever fell. It had fallen years ago: in love. The words and spectacular collage paintings make something majestic out of newfound vision -- an original way for sharing with young dreamers.

Why I Love This Book
This book has an unusual and compelling premise. The opening leads to so many questions: How does the wave stay over the house? Why doesn't the woman move if it annoys her? Why does the wave put up with the woman's bluster? Reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, the wave loves the old woman. Will the old women ever come to see the wave as more than a nuisance? This whimsical tale is made complete by clever collage illustrations.

Shelley Jackson's website

Collage Demo on YouTube

Article about strategies for children dealing with change

Craving more Perfect Picture Books? Author Susanna Leonard Hill compiles weekly book reviews from bloggers at Visit Fridays or click the Perfect Picture Books tab at her website for a subject listing.


  1. This is certainly an unexpected plot! Thanks for sharing this, Laura. Happy New Year!

  2. What and unusual story. I thought it might be a fractured fairy tale at first. But, I think it is an interesting relationship to discuss with children. Their imaginations would soar.

  3. I love your resources and discussion issue. This book sounds interesting in its' potential for discussion. Love the cover. :)

  4. This does sound like an intriguing book, Laura. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. I'm with the others. This looks like a unique book. I love the umbrella's like pin cushions.

  6. And me too! What a cool story! And I love the sound of those illustrations. Thanks for sharing