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Flotsam
Flotsam
by David Wiesner

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam--anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

David Wiesner has revealed the magical possibilities of a day at the beach in a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.
Age: 5 Year-olds | Title: Flotsam  |  Author: David Wiesner  |  Publisher: Clarion Books
A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam--anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

David Wiesner has revealed the magical possibilities of a day at the beach in a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.

David Wiesner continues with his genius of telling a detailed story without using words in this Caldecott Medal book, Flotsam. The binoculars and a microscope on the boy's beach blanket at the beginning of the book set the tone of the story, suggesting he is at the beach to explore and learn. Each page has either a full-page picture, or different sizes and shapes of panels in light colors that accurately portray a sunny day at the beach. The pictures provide many unique perspectives, as the very first page is allowing readers to look through a magnifying class at a tiny crab. The 'lens' of the pictures zooms in and out throughout the story. At another point, readers look through the young man’s microscope with him, increasing the magnifying strength to see deeper and deeper.

The motif of views and vision continues when the young boy finds a waterproof camera washed up on shore. You may want to ask your child to study the camera very carefully - where else have they seen this? If they don't know the answer, you and your child can study the front cover and you will see it as a reflection in the giant eye. The young boy decides to develop the film and is flabbergasted at the pictures. Your child's imagination and sense of wonder will jump into full gear when they see the pictures of a robotic fish, a seashell town living on the shell of a sea turtle, a blowfish floating above water like a balloon, humorous tiny aliens studying the deep sea, and many more that you'll have to find out about on your own. Your child will likely have a lot of questions, such as "are any of the pictures real, can they have an underwater camera too, and very likely, "can we go to the beach?"

My five-year-old friend Molly wanted to know right away what flotsam means. She was excited by the title because of the two eels in The Little Mermaid named 'Flotsam' and 'Jetsam'. I defined flotsam for her as 'something that floats'. Molly was really captivated by the concept of the picture, inside a picture, inside a picture. She wanted to look back through the book on her own when we were through, and she spent most of her time studying those pages.

--Audra

 

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