Ben, my youngest, turned four last month. One of his birthday presents was the book you see above. (Thanks, cousin Jacob!) I am not exaggerating when I say that Flotsam blew me away.
This jaw-droppingly beautiful book doesn’t have a single word of narrative text. Yet it spins an unforgettable tale of undersea cities with Martians in bubble helmets and clockwork steampunk wind-up fish. Then there’s the kids who discover this fantastic world via a camera that pops in and out of the ocean again and again. You can see the camera reflected in the fish’s eye if you look carefully at the cover.
For copyright reasons I don’t feel comfortable scanning and uploading more images of the book. But trust me…it’s gorgeous from cover to cover. It won the coveted Caldecott award, so you know this is quality material.
My favorite part is the photo-of-a-photo-of-a-photo. The protagonist just happens to have a magnifying glass handy, so he can see back to the very first photo taken with the mysterious camera. BTW, I know this isn’t possible with the resolution of regular Earth cameras. So please don’t email me to tell me that, OK? There was a time when I thought it was do-able, but that was before I learned how to develop my own b/w film. Also, did I mention the wind-up fish? Martians? Yeah. Flotsam takes place in the realm of fantasy, pure and simple.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. I think everyone under the age of fifteen should have a look at it. This is the kind of book that rings an inner bell for future historians. Maybe even a photo archivist or two, you never know.
If you’re a genealogist with grandkids, use this book to talk about the passage of time and family members who came before. Describe what the photo-within-a-photo would look like if every picture was his or her ancestor. Talk about everyday history like what great-great grandma would have worn at the seashore. Share your favorite memories of the beach, too.
And remember, the story is told without any narrative text. That means a four year old like Ben can read the story to you. Four year olds love this, trust me. Especially when they have a big sister who learned how to read in Kindergarten this past year.
Flotsam would make a great Father’s Day gift.
Use this link to read more about Flotsam at Amazon.com.