Tuesday, November 07, 2006


FLOTSAM by David Wiesner (Clarion)
"Flotsam" is something that floats, in this case, an old-fashioned camera, tossed without harm onto the shore by a wayward wave, and into the hands of a young naturalist, a boy who has his microscope in a zip-lock bag and was beforehand occupied with the obeservation of crabs through a magnifying glass. Lo and behold, there is film in this camera, and, in character, our curious friend has it developed; but neither he or us, the lucky onlookers, will believe our eyes. Clockwork carp, cities built on sea-turtle backs, starfish that dwarf sperm whales, extraterrestrial tourists on a scuba expedition, an octopus holding court in an undersea living-room read-aloud (my favorite, worth the price of the book alone), and one strange picture of another child that goes back-back-back in time, and offers a clue of what our boy should do next. This crazily imaginative candid camera gives new meaning to "a picture is worth a thousand words," and contains so much detail, from the wrinkle of the beach towel to the beachcomber's collection on the title page, one would practically expect sand to trickle out of the seams or to hear the ocean if you held this book up to your ear. I think it takes a certain genius to create a book in which we don't miss the language at all; the book still works as a "look-aloud" with a group, with panels in which actions are easy to describe, and other pictures that thankfully require nothing more of us than a groan of admiration and delight. Despite the two Caldecotts and two Caldecott honors Weisner has garnered in the past, I would have to say this latest effort blows the rest out of the water. (5 and up)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also love this book. I'm teaching 3rd and 4th grade and they have not put the book down. I had my kids make a book of thier own about a made up flotsam experience! This book really brought out thier imagination.


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