Mahrya's Reviews > Flotsam

Flotsam by David Wiesner
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's review
Oct 25, 08

bookshelves: juvenilia
Recommended for: 3rd Graders and Older
Read in October, 2008

Wiesner, David, Flotsam,, Clarion Books, unnumbered pages. Picture book, fantasy, Caldecott Medal winner, 2007, wordless story.

Description: Without using words, this book tells the story of a boy who finds an old camera that has washed up on the beach. The boy develops the film inside the camera and discovers a fantastical array of underwater scenes, along with pictures nested within pictures of the other children who have previously discovered the camera.

Review: Flotsam invites children into a completely enthralling fantasy world, where octopi lounge in underwater living rooms and sea turtles carry around entire cities made of conch shells on their backs. Just because Flotsam is wordless, however, does not mean that it is intended for very young children. A great amount of attention to detail is necessary to follow this rather complex story. Adults may need to explain certain aspects of the plot to children or point out details that kids could easily miss. When the boy discovers, for instance, that 70 other children have found the camera and taken pictures of themselves, subtle clues like the children's clothing become essential for understanding, yet may be easily missed. For children who only enjoy books with loud action and words, this book may fall flat. But kids who appreciate mysterious circumstances and like to puzzle through ambiguous situations will love this book.

Professional Reviews:

"Elite Company: David Wiesner Earns Record Tying Third Caldecott Medal for Flotsam," Reading Today, March/April 2007.

This review compares Flotsam to Wiesner's other Caldecott winners and stresses the Wiesner's technique of mixing the realistic with the fantastical. I agree that certain elements of this book are very realistically portrayed, which makes the underwater scenes seem even more imaginative by contrast.

Sychterz, Terre, Childhood Today, 2007.

Sychterz' review is mainly a summary of the book's plot with a brief nod to the effectiveness of the watercolor illustrations. Sychterz' review could be improved by including more analysis of the book's strengths and weaknesses.

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