Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Flotsam Book Poster Image
Underwater fantasy world revealed in magical watercolors.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Encourages kids to look carefully at the pictures and piece together what's going on.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that David Wiesner's wordless, beautiful book with captivating illustrations won the 2007 Caldecott Medal. It tells the story of a boy who discovers an intricate underwater wonderland revealed in film from an underwater camera he finds on the shore. Kids of all ages will appreciate the story on its various levels.

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What's the story?

While a boy is digging for crabs, a wave sweeps him off his feet and deposits an underwater camera on the sand in front of him. After he recovers, he has the film developed and is captivated by what he finds. Ultimately, he tosses the camera back into the sea, where it's carried away by various creatures until it again washes ashore for a new child to find.

Is it any good?

With no text to interfere, this book's expressive, sensitively painted watercolors tell the story as words never could. And the magic of the boy's imaginative, somewhat surreal photos is intriguing and will amaze the reader.

David Wiesner is a talented, clever, prolific artist with a self-avowed passion for what he calls "wordless storytelling." He manages to pack his pages with details variously framed and set up like a comic book yet masterfully placed to create the rhythm of a classic tale. Of all Wiesner's books, Flotsam in particular reflects his fascination with what comes before and after a picture. It's simply captivating. There's so much to explore on each page.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the things the boy finds in the ocean and the adventures he has. What kinds of things does he see?

  • Have you had any adventures like the boy's at the beach?

  • Can you tell what's going on in each picture? Can you make up your own stories behind it?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and fantasy

Themes & Topics

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