Flotsam by David Weisner

Summary: PreS-Gr. 2 (and beyond). As in his Caldecott Medal Book Tuesday (1991), Wiesner offers another exceptional, wordless picture book that finds wild magic in quiet, everyday settings. At the seaside, a boy holds a magnifying glass up to a flailing hermit crab; binoculars and a microscope lay nearby. The array of lenses signals the shifting viewpoints to come, and in the following panels, the boy discovers an old-fashioned camera, film intact. A trip to the photo store produces astonishing pictures: an octopus in an armchair holding story hour in a deep-sea parlor; tiny, green alien tourists peering at sea horses. There are portraits of children around the world and through the ages, each child holding another child's photo. After snapping his own image, the boy returns the camera to the sea, where it's carried on a journey to another child. Children may initially puzzle, along with the boy, over the mechanics of the camera and the connections between the photographed portraits. When closely observed, however, the masterful watercolors and ingeniously layered perspectives create a clear narrative, and viewers will eagerly fill in the story's wordless spaces with their own imagined story lines. Like Chris Van Allsburg's books and Wiesner's previous works, this visual wonder invites us to rethink how and what we see, out in the world and in our mind's eye. Gillian Engberg Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Classroom Implications: Never underestimate the power of words...or lack of words. This wordless picture book provides a fascinating narrative for children to explore without the constraints of a text written with words! This book allows children to dive into the complex concept of multiple perspectives by using an accessible visual text. In addition to the text being accessible, it is visually stimulating, imaginative and beautifully done. This text also lends itself well to English Language Learners in the classroom, as well as a mentor text for special education students in the upper grades.

Skills and Strategies
  • Point of View
  • Perspective
  • Storytelling
  • Narrative writing

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