Review by Anna Chirhart
The deep sea is a space alien to mankind…. You’d never guess it to be home of extraterrestrial beings! Flotsam is a fanciful story about a boy who is playing on a beach and finds an old camera washed up on shore. He brings the camera to “One-Hour-Photo”, to get the photos developed. From mechanical trout, starfish islands, and octopi reading bedtime stories, he discovers through these photos the unknown wonders of the deep sea.
Flotsam is a wordless picturebook told through intricate illustrations. Wiesner plays with perspective and page set-up to aid in narration; some openings being double paged, while some contain multiple panels such as what can be found in a comic book, using the gutter to his advantage expressing passage of time. Perspective is used to change the readers point of view from third eye to what the protagonist sees. Such as when Wiesner focuses on a magnifying glass, suggesting the visual perspective of the protagonist looking down at it. This story is best told without textual narrative as it allows the reader to feel like they are inside the story. Experiencing the story from within allows readers to grapple questions similar to what the protagonist might be thinking. For instance: how do the seahorse feel about alien invasions? How old is this indestructible seeming waterproof camera?
I find Flotsam to be creative and engaging. While there is no educational purpose to this story, it serves as an extraordinary way to stimulate the imagination of a young readers mind. I’ve fallen in love with this book and its enthralling take on seashore treasure hunting.
By David Wiesner
Clarion Books, 2006
Anna would cut off her ear to paint like Van Gogh.