Sunday, January 23, 2011

Flotsam Review - Module 1 LS5603

David Wiesner
Clarion Books, 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-618-19457-5

“Flotsam:  Something that floats.”


     The boy in the wordless picture book, Flotsam, shares many of the same traits as the award-winning illustrator, David Wiesner, who is pictured at the age of five on the inside of the back jacket cover.  After turning the first page, you can see a young boy using a magnifying glass as he inspects every detail of a small crustacean.  The viewer is instantly inspired to view each detail of the pages with the same intensity.  As the boy searches to find treasures that had washed to the beach, he stumbles across a mysterious camera.  The photographs developed from the film inside reveal a brilliantly colored underwater fantasy.  Supernatural scenes of wonder invite the viewer to stay on each page and soak their imaginations in the sea.  Finally, under the microscope, pictures within pictures reveal the worldly journey of the camera, and our main character snaps a photo of himself holding the other children’s photos to complete the cycle.  The cotton blonde-haired boy finds the fantastical photos in the camera, along with the cultural photos of children from all over the world. As he launches the camera back in to the ocean, you can only imagine the next adventures it will capture.  

Critical Analysis

     David Wiesner’s illustrations are phenomenal, and without words he manages to create pages that coerce the viewer in to savoring every minute detail.  The illustration of the fish eye on the front sleeve cleverly foreshadows the lens of the camera.  Sectioned pages create movement which expresses the feelings of the characters.  A sense of humanity and global oneness are established between the children who were privy to the secret wonders of the sea.  The story and artistic styling of Flotsam has the ability to intrigue and captivate readers, storytellers and art lovers without boundaries.  

Awards & Reviews:

The Caldecott Medal, 2007

The New York Times Book Review:  Best Illustrated Children's Book Awards

“Telling tales through imagery is what storytellers have done through the ages. Wiesner’s wordless tale resonates with visual images that tell his story with clever wit and lively humor,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Janice Del Negro.

"Wiesner’s detailed watercolors make the absurd wonderfully believable, his graphic storytelling sense is sure and swift, and children will surely love “Flotsam” from start to finish." said David Small of The New York Times

Wordless picture books like Wiesner's Flotsam give children a platform for inventing unique stories each time they read the book.  Children can use the Flotsam photos of the the sea to tell and/or write their own short stories.  Each child will choose one page to analyze, and teachers can assist students by asking them questions.  
For example:
What are the creatures under the sea?  
Can you give them names?
Where did they come from? 
What is their temperament?
What do they eat? 

School Library Journal suggests this class project inspired by Flotsam.
An article submitted to School Library Journal, by Melissa Techman September 7, 2010
Students make an artifact which is relevant to a time period they are studying.  Each group of five shows the artifact as they re-create the picture within a picture with a high resolution camera.  Then the groups exchange and decipher the time period they are studying with the clue of the final photograph.  

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