I have long been a fan of David Wiesner, enjoying many of his wordless picture books. My favourite one has to be Flotsam.
In this book a boy finds a camera washed up on the beach with a film inside. I have to say the colours on the roll of film do remind me of Kodak but I am not sure how many children in primary schools will still be familiar with the concept of film and taking the film to be developed. The photos that are revealed tell the tales of incredible goings on under the sea. But the last picture proves to be even more of a puzzle because it shows a girl holding a picture from the film and this image goes on and on and on.
Using a microscope these images reveal that the very first picture was taken a long time ago. The boy continues the idea of taking a picture of himself holding the last photo and then returns the camera to the sea where it continues on its fantastical journey. This is a wonderful book where every page is a visual delight.
I love the fantastical side of the book with the sea creatures taking part in human activities, sitting on the sofa reading or flying in a balloon of puffer fish. But I am also interested in the theme of eyes and lenses that runs through the book. It reminds me of The Viewer by Shaun Tan Gary Crew and another book about the Kraken which escapes me at the moment.
There are several ways in which this book could be used. It could be used as for children to retell the story adding text or it could be innovated upon. If children took the underlying story: something is found on the beach, it reveals something unexpected, it is returned to the sea then there are lots of ways in which a similar story could be developed especially if children are taken down to the beach to see what they can find on shore. The book could be used to develop the idea of character through showing not telling. ‘What do we know about the boy?’ would make a great investigation for children as there are many clues to be interpreted. There is also something interesting to be studied in the framing of the pictures. I particularly like the six small frames that show the boy’s boredom/excitement whilst waiting the hour for the pictures to be printed.
Another possible way to use the book is to take the idea from Houghton Mifflin and create a promotional video for the book. A tool such as Photostory would be ideal.
This book would work well with almost any unit of literacy in KS2. Obvious links are imaginary worlds and familiar settings but if you like the book you will make it work anywhere!
Have you used this book in literacy? If so, how?