By David Wiesner
Storyline: There are no words to describe what is all about but as we open the book we see a blue watching an enormous bug. As we turn the page, everything becomes clear: a boy on the beach inspecting an insect through his magnifying glass. The boy, blond with blue eyes, maybe ten to thirteen years old, is exploring the beach, digging the sand, swimming in the ocean, picking up creatures washed ashore, while his parents are reading nearby under an umbrella.
In one of his exploration sessions he finds an unusual object. He brings it to his parents, then to the life guard boy, then he takes it apart to finally discover what appear to be a photo camera with a film inside it. Our protagonist then rushes to town to a photo shop where a young girl makes the film into pictures. After one hour, the boy sees the most amazing scenes captured by this underwater camera: a school of fish where one of them is mechanical, the living room of an octopus’s family, a balloon flown by a balloon fish, a sea turtle carrying a town of shells on its back, and so on. At the end of these incredible scenes, there is another photo, even more astonishing: a girl on a shore holding a photo that shows a boy on a shore holding a photo that shows a boy on a shore holding a photo and so on…a picture within a picture that the boy can see only by a close examination with a very strong magnifying glass. At the end of the scenes, buried very deep inside, there is a very old picture, black and white, of a boy on a beach, raising his hand in a salutation.
After discovering this first photo which was magnified 70 times, our boy knows what he need to do next. He has to send the camera back to the see, this time, with his own picture on it. So he sets the camera to take an old fashion selfie, laying on the beach and holding the last photo…then he throws the camera back on the ocean, where it will travel, carried by the waves and sea creatures, to another beach, where another child would find it ….
Characters: the boy, the parents, the girl at the photo shop
Illustration: David Wiesner is also the illustrator of this book. And as with all his books, the world he builds in this story is unique and fantastic. As I said before, the book has no words, only pictures. Page after page, Wiesner invites the reader to see through his illustrations. The reader gets his clues from the bold actions depicted through the book. Sometimes there is a whole act filling in the page, other times there are strips of scenes in successive order, and yet, other times the page is divided in two or even three sections. Overall, story and illustration, Flotsam is an intriguing children’s book.
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