05 September 2010

Flotsam by David Wiesner - Book Review for TWU

Wiesner, David. 2006. FLOTSAM. New York, NY: Clarion Books. ISBN 9780618194575.

In this picture book without words, a young boy finds a camera, washed up on the beach. Curious, he develops the film to find some very unusual pictures of sea creatures and one particular picture of interest The picture is of a child, holding a picture of a child, holding a picture of a child, to many degrees. As the boy realizes what has been recorded in this camera and explores the pictures, he decides to become part of this elaborate record.

The pictures in this book are phenomenal, bright and highly detailed, with each "reading" revealing more detail.
One of my favorite pictures is of a fish family in their living room, the children fish packed like sardines on the couch; the light bulbs in the lamps are sturgeon fish with their natural glowing bulbs; a fishbowl on the table, the pets swimming in and out of it. The pictures are whimsical with some humor thrown in. Multiple readings bring new aspects to light, new details, which can be expanded upon. It can be as simple or elaborate as the reader would like. Being a wordless picture book, the story can change with each person reading the book, or even with each re-reading.

The concept portrayed by the picture within a picture is fascinating for older readers to expand upon, imaginations can run wild. For the youngest readers, I believe the concept is a bit beyond them, but the glorious pictures give liberty to read and interpret a story as simple as you wish. It would be fun to re-read with a child as they grow and watch their ability to grasp concepts change.

Caldecott Medal Recipient 2007.

Starred Review in KIRKUS: "From arguably the most inventive and cerebral visual storyteller in children's literature comes a wordless invitation.....not to be resisted."

Starred Review in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: This wordless books vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy.

Pair this with other works by Wiesner for a visual feast. TUESDAY, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, or FREE FALL to name a few, for an illustrator themed reading. For a wordless picture book theme, SIDEWALK CIRCUS by Paul Fleishman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes and THE RED BOOK by Barbara Lehman would be good choices.

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