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Flotsam: 08/15/11

cover art

It's funny and sad how great books slip through the cracks in my review schedule. Flotsam by David Wiesner is one of those books. It was the first book of his that I read and it's the last one I'm reviewing.

Flotsam is a wordless picture book about a boy who finds a Brownie style camera washed up at the beach. He takes the camera to a camera store and has the film developed. The photographs reveal a magical under sea world and a glimpse at generations past in the final photograph.

In fact the final photograph is so wondrous that half the book is spent on it. It shows a child holding up a photograph of another child, presumably taken with the same camera. In that photograph is another child holding up a photograph. And so forth all the way back to a black and white photograph of a child dressed in clothing of the same era as the camera, standing before a place like Coney Island. The boy taking a hint from the last photograph uses his last photograph to show himself holding the photograph of the previous child, thus continuing the chain.

An an actual photograph of a photograph like that wouldn't hold as many iterations as the one in Flotsam does. But it is a magical camera so clearly it has remarkable properties.

Flotsam is a good way to get children thinking about how photographs can record the past and to get them talking about different eras.

Five stars.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Tuesday, August, 16, 2011 at 12:15:26


Sounds like an amazing book, one kids and their adults can appreciate. I hadn't heard of it before.

Comment #2: Monday, August 22, 2011 at 22:59:21


David Wiesner's books all qualify as amazing. You should give his books a try.

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