September 6 – 12
Told only through pictures, this story explores the possibility of what washes up on the beach. A young explorer is studying things he finds on the beach and examines each thing carefully. Then he discovers a camera with film still in it. After getting it developed, he discovers a whole new world under the ocean where anything goes!
Wiesner, D. (2006). Flotsam. New York: Clarion.
I like to read graphic novels for all ages. This picture book told solely through illustrations is a new favorite of mine. I have to admit, when I first opened the book to the beginning of the story I thought it would turn out that the main character discovered a camera from deep sea divers. I had no idea of the wonderful imaginative things that were in store! I think this story captures what every kid at the beach dream of: finding a treasure that's too good to be true.
PreS-Gr. 2. As in his Caldecott Medal Book 'Tuesday' (1991), Wiesner offers another exceptional, wordless picture book that finds wild magic in quiet, everyday settings. At the seaside, a boy holds a magnifying glass up to a flailing hermit crab; binoculars and a microscope lay nearby. The array of lenses signals the shifting viewpoints to come, and in the following panels, the boy discovers an old-fashioned camera, film intact. A trip to the photo store produces astonishing pictures: an octopus in an armchair holding story hour in a deep-sea parlor; tiny, green alien tourists peering at sea horses. There are portraits of children around the world and through the ages, each child holding another child's photo. After snapping his own image, the boy returns the camera to the sea, where it's carried on a journey to another child. Children may initially puzzle, along with the boy, over the mechanics of the camera and the connections between the photographed portraits. When closely observed, however, the masterful watercolors and ingeniously layered perspectives create a clear narrative, and viewers will eagerly fill in the story's wordless spaces with their own imagined story lines. Like Chris Van Allsburg's books and Wiesner's previous works, this visual wonder invites us to rethink how and what we see, out in the world and in our mind's eye. (Reviewed August 2006). Gillian Engberg. 40pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2006.
Engberg, G. (2006 August 1). [Review of Flotsam]. Booklist, pp 76.
From School Library Journal:
K-Gr 4. A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. It's a 'Melville underwater camera,' and the excited boy quickly develops the film he finds inside. The photos are amazing: a windup fish, with intricate gears and screwed-on panels, appears in a school with its living counterparts; a fully inflated puffer, outfitted as a hot-air balloon, sails above the water; miniature green aliens kowtow to dour-faced sea horses; and more. The last print depicts a girl, holding a photo of a boy, and so on. As the images become smaller, the protagonist views them through his magnifying glass and then his microscope. The chain of children continues back through time, ending with a sepia image of a turn-of- the-20th-century boy waving from a beach. After photographing himself holding the print, the youngster tosses the camera back into the ocean, where it makes its way to its next recipient. This wordless book's vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy. Shifting perspectives, from close-ups to landscape views, and a layout incorporating broad spreads and boxed sequences, add drama and motion to the storytelling and echo the photographic theme. Filled with inventive details and delightful twists, each snapshot is a tale waiting to be told. Pair this visual adventure with Wiesner's other works, Chris Van Allsburg's titles, or Barbara Lehman's The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal. Unpg. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2006.
Fleishhacker, J. (2006 September 1). [Review of Flotsam]. School Library Journal, pp 186.
Library Setting Uses:
I think a wonderful way of tying this book into a library program would be to recreate the photo at the end of the book of a child holding a picture of a child holding a picture of a child, etc. What would be a delightful twist is to either get a local photographer to show the students techniques for photography so they can put together their own hypothetical events. What would also be great would be to have the kids complete this activity at the beginning of the school year and then have them take another photo of themselves holding the original photo a month later and so on until the end of the school year.