It’s November, and for many of us that means the weather has become quite dreary. It’s not easy to get away for a vacation, but with this week’s book (and a little imagination), you’ll have no trouble picturing the warmer, sunnier days of summer!
I stumbled upon David Wiesner’s “Flotsam” when I was perusing the children’s book section at my local bookstore (something I do every chance I get!). I saw the Caldecott Medal sticker on the cover and decided to give it a look. The book immediately hooked me; it was so unique, intensely imaginative, and stunningly beautiful. Part of the charm of Flotsam is the simplicity of the story, which is told entirely without words.
The plot is basically this: a little boy goes to the beach and discovers an old camera that has washed up on the shore. He opens the camera and finds a roll of film inside. He takes the film to be developed and he is surprised to see the pictures he gets back. The pictures depict a fantastic underwater world; one in which fish are made from gears and an octopus family enjoys relaxing in their living room. Puffer fish are big enough to be hot air balloons, and entire cities float on the back of sea turtles. The little boy finds one last picture; it’s a picture of all the previous children who have found the camera. He uses a magnifying glass, then a microscope to see all the way back in time, boys and girls from different eras and different parts of the world. The little boy adds a roll of film to the camera and takes a picture of himself, holding the final photo. He throws the camera back into the ocean and it gets taken out to sea by various helpful creatures. On the last page, the camera washes up again on another beach, and this time a little girl finds it.
So simple and elegant – this is the type of children’s story that is easy to read over and over again.
Here are some great activities that you can do with your child to celebrate the magic that is Flotsam:
Fun Animal Pictures: Challenge your child to come up with their own imaginary pictures of animals. To get them started, ask them what they think bears REALLY do in the winter when they’re hibernating. And how about the family dog – what is he up to while the house is empty? Get out the markers and the paper and let your child’s imagination run wild!
Create a Wordless Story: Encourage your child to tell a story without words. Staple several sheets of paper together and let your child draw a story. When they’re done, have them ‘read’ it to you.
Play “What If”: This is a fun game for the car. Ask your child “What if?” questions. Questions like, “What if you were able to fly, where would you go?” “What if you lived underground, what would that be like?” or “What if you could have any super power- what would it be?” This is a fabulous way to get your child’s imagination working hard! You may be surprised by some of their answers!
Take an Imaginary Trip to the Beach: If you live in a place where autumn is chilly, why not have an indoor beach day? Set up some beach towels next to a blue blanket ocean, and turn on some soothing music (or, if you have it, a CD of ocean sounds). Freeze some juice pops, make some smoothies, close your eyes and enjoy a mini-getaway!