The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky

Jihyun Kim

Available to buy

Quick Look

  • A beautiful story without words that encourages young readers to be present in the moment and discover the natural world
  • Conveys a beautiful sense of space and place as the illustrations move from the cramped, busy city to the wide expanse of countryside
  • Soft, delicately detailed illustrations evoke golden afternoons of summer stillness
  • Children can take time to explore these beautifully presented spreads, imagining the details of the narrative at their own pace
  • From award-winning Korean artist and illustrator Kim Jihyun

This wordless picture book tells the heartfelt and uplifting story of a child's independent discovery of the natural world. Excitement, wonder and joy are deftly captured using intricate illustrations and a deceptively simple colour palette.

324 x 231 mm
Floris Books
Picture Books
colour illustrations
Age Range:
From 4 to 7 years
48 pages
Publication date:
07 Oct 2021


It's summertime and a boy and his dog are leaving behind their apartment in the busy city.

His grandparents' home in the countryside feels like a different world. From the window, the curious boy sees a path leading enticingly into the forest. He can't wait to explore.

At each bend in the trail the boy discovers more wonders of the surrounding natural world, from towering trees to a still, silent lake. He can't resist diving down, down into the cool water and greeting the fish below. Then later, when boy and dog have been warmed by the gentle sunshine, they wander back, contentedly, to their family. But before they go to sleep, nature gives them one last dazzling show: they look up, up to a night sky awash with stars.

Without a word, The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky tells the heartfelt and uplifting story of a child's independent discovery of the natural world. Kim Jihyun cleverly captures excitement, wonder and joy in intricate illustrations using a deceptively simple colour palate.

This is a beautiful story about allowing ourselves to be present in the moment and see the world afresh.


'Created to share the serenity that the South Korean Kim experienced away from Seoul in "a lakeside town in another country, surrounded by a thick forest of trees," this wordless debut follows a city boy and his dog on their first immersive encounter with nature. Drawn and painted in writing ink, to show different qualities of light, it's astonishing to behold.'
-- The New York Times

'A wordless ode to the serenity of breathing deep in nature...
Jihyun's mostly monochromatic illustrations nevertheless vary in line weight and texture, bringing to life the protagonist's verdant surroundings and perfectly capturing the transformation from city child to a wilder one. Shifting perspectives vary between close-ups of the child's wondrous expressions and their tiny form amid a dense forest, an expansive lake, and a luminous night sky.
A simple yet marvelous musing on the beauty of the great outdoors.'
-- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

'A wordless picture book pays homage to the wonder of nature... It is a quiet story without drama. Rather, the book is a call to pause, slow down, and enjoy nature. The illustrator used writing ink to draw and paint, and each spread is a masterpiece. In one scene, the clouds above the car are so detailed and clear that they look more like a photograph than a sketch... Leisurely and lovely.'
-- School Library Journal, Starred Review

'Wordlessly evoking wonder and an appreciation for nature is no easy feat, but in Jihyun's debut, the feelings of a young boy are effortlessly portrayed, with subtle shifts in tone and color opening up vistas of the titular lake and sky... This book of quiet beauty invites children to notice how depth and height can be similar. A stellar addition for all libraries.'
-- Booklist, Starred Review

'A gorgeous oversized and wordless picture book documenting a boy's trip to the countryside. Each double page-spread shows us another step in the journey, as we move from a busy and crowded urban landscape to the quietude of the natural world... The illustrations are drop-dead gorgeous and thrilling, even though they are done completely in black, white, and numerous shades of gray, using only ink. There's so much detail to examine and linger over: family portraits proudly displayed in Grandma's living room, the huge variety of trees and plants in the forest, the various friendly fish in the pond. I found the shifting perspective exciting and novel. Sometimes we're far above the boy, other times we're right behind him, seeing the world through his eyes. There's a wonderful sense of freedom and adventure to this book, balanced by the safe foundation represented by the dog, the parents, and the grandparents.'
-- Youth Services Book Review, 5 stars

'More than a foot tall and nine inches wide, the exquisite The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky, by Korean author/illustrator Kim Jihyun, makes a magnificent first impression. The pages within showcase spectacular illustrations and, without a single word, gorgeously reveal a story of family, nature and discovery. Two parents, their young son and playful pup leave their city apartment for a car trip through country roads and rolling hills to where grandparents await.
While the adults are busy with warm greetings, the boy notices a winding trail just beyond the windows. With the pup following closely behind, he ventures into the nearby forest. Through the trees, boy and dog discover a small wooden dock on a wide-open lake. The boy dives in to discover a wondrous underwater world of swaying plants and curious fish. Back on land, boy and dog soak in the bright sun until it's time to return to the house for a boisterous family meal. As darkness falls, the shimmering nighttime beckons boy and dog back out for a starry spectacle.
Kim's art, in her debut book, proves both visually splendid and cleverly contextual. The car's license plate, for example, is KIM702, perhaps summoning a personal trip, hinting at a July vacation jaunt. The grandparents, Kim suggests, are maternal: framed photographs on the living room wall depict family members, including a portrait of a little girl in a wide-brimmed bonnet. By day's end, the pup might have a new friend, as a black cat approaches the window in which the canine perches and waits.
The illustrations are "entirely drawn and painted using writing ink and slow-dry blending medium." Kim's opening palette is predominantly black, white and in-between greys, with just the merest suggestions of underlying blue. As the family transitions from city to country, the single color expands and intensifies. Every page turn brightens the scenery, as Kim deftly employs varying hues of blue to mirror the variations on the water's surface or to capture the limitless expanse of uninterrupted, soporific skies. The concluding author's note provides the book's origin story: a summer stay "in a lakeside town in another country." She dexterously transforms memories of what she calls "soft sunlight," "gentle breeze," "the deep lake," "countless stars" and night sky into a dazzling masterpiece.
Shelf Talker: The depth of the lake and the height of the sky are brilliantly captured in this wordless picture book masterpiece about a trip to the countryside.
-- Shelf Awareness

'This silent book invites us into a boy's transforming experience in the natural world. He lives in an apartment in the city but packs his bags one day to visit grandparents in the country. After he and his parents arrive, he looks out the window of his grandparents' home and sees trees and grasses blowing in the wind. When he decides to explore one of the paths with his dog, he finds himself in a beautiful wooded area. We readers get the sense that he's not used to seeing such vistas, given his life in the city; perhaps this is even his first of such visits.
Then, he sees it: a lake. He dives in, and we are privy to his underwater adventure. Afterwards, in two glorious spreads, we see him and his pet from an aerial view, the blues of the water taking up most of the spread's space, and on the following spread we see what he sees -- the shimmering sun in a cloudless sky. (I love this spread so much that it's the open that opens this post.) These alternating points of view -- the sun's and then the boy's -- are breathtaking.
The boy heads back, and we see his grandparents' home from outside and from a distance. The family has gathered to dine together. Previously in the book, the boy stands in his grandparents' living room, staring at photos of family on the wall. We get the sense that his immersive experience in the natural world isn't the only thing he'll remember from this visit. He will also remember the quiet and relaxed time spent with family.
In the closing spreads, he and his dog stare at the sky in wonder, and then we readers see the same view of the stars that he sees. In an appended note, Jihyun writes that she spent a few days last summer in a lakeside town in another country, and the quiet moments she spent there were ones in which she felt "truly alive. To share that serene feeling, I created this book." The note itself reads like a free verse poem.
There are many things Jihyun does well here -- the delicate, closely observed artwork; the wonder pervading the story and the page-turns it compels; how the monochromatic palette welcomes cool blues when the boy explores at the lake; the fact that the trim size is tall to accommodate for what the very title tells us we will experience; the use of scale to communicate the boy's awe; and all that the playful perspectives offer -- but the book's pacing is, hands down, its best quality. Jihyun never rushes the story. We as readers often pause with the boy to marvel at what he sees. And there are no surprising plot developments here. Just the ripples on the water, the sun, the sky, the stars -- not to mention what the boy sees underwater.'
-- Seven Impossible Things Blog

'Another wordless book, this time following a boy and his dog from his apartment in a busy city to his grandparents home in the countryside. When he gets there, he explores the surrounding natural world, from the forests to the lakes, from the meadow to the night sky. This book captures excitement, wonder and joy in muted colour illustrations. It is peaceful, and words are not necessary to accompany the story. Children will take great delight in turning the pages without distraction.'
-- Kindling


Kim Jihyun is an illustrator and picture book creator from South Korea. Jihyun studied Design and Illustration at the University of Brighton, UK, and Seoul National University, South Korea. Her first picture book, The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky, evokes the feeling of being surrounded by the vast natural world; a stark contrast to her life in a busy city. Jihyun lives in Seoul with her partner and their young daughter.

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