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Flotsam Hardcover – September 4, 2006
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A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam--anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.
In each of his amazing picture books, David Wiesner has revealed the magical possibilities of some ordinary thing or happening--a frog on a lily pad, a trip to the Empire State Building, a well-known nursery tale. This time, a day at the beach is the springboard into a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and of the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.
A Look Inside Flotsam
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 4–A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. Its 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 books 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 Wiesners other works, Chris Van Allsburgs titles, or Barbara Lehmans The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
We're delighted. And we want to encourage her. (Which does not extend to teaching her how to read; we are old, our reservoir of patience is not what it once was, it's better to let the experts at her high-priced school do the job.) So we get her the picture books of David Wiesner and ask her to tell us their stories.
Wiesner is the acknowledged master of wordless books for kids. (All three of the Wiesner books we own --- Tuesday, Three Pigs and Flotsam, his most recent book --- have won the Caldecott Medal.) It's not just that he draws beautifully and that his pictures allow a child aged 4 through 7 to tell the story. His greater gift is his refusal to talk down. His books are challenging. They are invitations to consider the story later, to broaden a child's sense of the world --- or, more accurately, they reflect the ability of most children to dream big and think poetically.
"Flotsam," for example, takes us to the beach. A well-equipped boy --- he's got a magnifying glass, binoculars and a microscope --- is digging and exploring while his parents read. He's so fascinated by a crab he doesn't see a rogue wave rolling in; when it rolls out, there's an ancient box camera at his feet. He shows it to friends, who are predictably puzzled. (Film inside? What, no digital chip?) And he takes the film to be developed at a one-hour photo shop.
Back at the beach, the boy looks at the pictures. One is of fish --- but some of the fish have gears. In another, sea creatures sit on lounge chairs in an underwater living room. A puffer becomes a hot air balloon. A village of shells travels on the back of a turtle. Aliens have a party on an underwater terrace. Giant starfish walk in the shallows.
And then there is the picture of a Japanese girl. She's holding a picture of another kid, who's holding a picture of another kid, who's holding....The magnifying glass isn't powerful enough; this is a job for the microscope.
And now, as we look deeper into the pictures, we are moving back into time. The decades fly by --- we end in the late 19th century, looking at a boy on the beach. Which gives our inquisitive lad an idea: He'll take a self-portrait using this old camera.
As soon as he snaps the shutter, he's hit by another wave. The photos scatter. The boy thinks for a moment, then throws the camera into the water. We see it float in the moonlight. Get pulled by a squid. Become a carriage for sea horses. Fly in the bill of a pelican. Float on an iceberg. And, at last, wash up on a beach.
A little girl, sitting on the beach, sees the camera. She reaches for it....
That's only half the story. The lesser half, really. The much larger part begins with your kid saying, "I want to read that book." And then, in her little voice, she tells you a story.
I could barely stand to give it away and, simultaneously, I could barely wait for them to have it. The drawings are wonderful and the story is...magic. It's the only word I can use. I don't want to tell you a thing about it--just let it unfold, page by page.
That said, there are two things it might help you to know: 1) The kids and grown-ups who will love it most are those who have been to the beach and seen the ocean, even once. Not essential, but an enrichment. 2) Wordless or not, the story had to be read to the 3-year-old by his sister the first time, not vice versa. For an all-pictures book, it's more nuanced than you'd think.
Order a copy for every family you know.
And one for yourself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is no need to explain in words.
The every scene shows enough the readers what happened to the boy.Read more