by David Wiesner
Flotsam by David Wiesner has been featured on Neely’s News before (Check out that post here) but a book this unique deserves another look.
2007 Caldecott Award Winner Flotsam is about a little boy who finds a strange looking camera washed up on the beach. Intrigued by this unique device he asks around for more information. Unfortunately, no one was able to tell the boy what or whose it is, so to cool his curiosity he takes the camera to have the photos developed. The pictures reveal fantastical underwater worlds where octopi read books, pufferfish fly, and tiny aliens invade seahorse territory. In addition to these incredible shots, there’s one of a girl holding a photograph. Upon closer inspection, the boy realizes the girl in the photograph is holding a picture of a child holding a picture of a child holding a picture, and so on and so on, all the way down to the original black and white photograph of a young boy on the beach.
Finally the boy understands that this strange camera is meant to be passed on. So he snaps a shot of himself holding the never ending photograph and throws the camera back to sea, where it’s off to more adventures before finding it’s next home with a different child.
But wait there’s more! I told you this book was unique, and here’s why: With the exception of the title pages, this book contains no words. Yep, that’s right. Wiesner crafts this exquisite story without a single line of text. Now before you discount this book as outlandish or say it’s not a real children’s book, think of all the benefits of having a book with no words. This book is not restricted to a certain grade level. Without words, this book can be enjoyed by middle schoolers and preschoolers alike. However, it can still be useful in the classroom like for a discussion about context clues. Personally, I think the biggest benefit of this book not having words is that there’s more room for Weisner’s eye catching illustrations. The only downside to not having words is that this book probably isn’t an ideal choice for kids who are trying to learn to read, or parents looking for a book to read aloud to their children.
So the question is: A children’s book with no words; genius or worthless? Decide for yourself with Flotsam by David Wiesner.