Flotsam (David Wiesner book)

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CM flotsam.jpg
Author David Wiesner
Illustrator David Wiesner
Country United States
Genre Children's picture book
Publisher Clarion/Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
ISBN 978-0-618-19457-5
OCLC 71000114
[E] 22
LC Class PZ7.W6367 Fl 2006

Flotsam is a children's picture book written and illustrated by David Wiesner. Published by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin in 2006, it was the 2007 winner of the Caldecott Medal;[1] the third win for David Wiesner. The book contains illustrations of underwater life with no text to accompany them.


This book has no words, but is told in pictures. A boy is at the beach and finds an old camera. He takes the film to get it developed, and sees photos of fantastical undersea cities and inventions. The last picture is the most interesting, though: it's of a girl, who is holding a photo of a child, who is holding a photo of a child, who is holding a photo of a child, and so on. The boy figures out that he is one in a long line of photographers who have found this camera. He takes a picture of himself holding this photo and tosses the camera back into the ocean; it is carried across the ocean by a variety of fish and sea life, until it again washes ashore and another child finds it.

Critical reception[edit]

Flotsam was published to glowing reviews. According to the Kirkus Review, “From arguably the most inventive and cerebral visual storyteller in children's literature comes a wordless invitation . . . not to be resisted.”[2] Flotsam has won the 2007 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Janice Del Negro has said of Flotsam, "Telling tales through imagery is what storytellers have done through the ages. Wiesner's wordless tale resonates with visual images that tell his story with clever wit and lively humor,".[3] Horn Book Magazine says, "The meticulous and rich detail of Wiesner's watercolors makes the fantasy involving and convincing."[4]




  1. ^ American Library Association: American Library Association announces literary award winners. URL accessed 27 January 2007,
  2. ^ "Kirkus Review". kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Del Negro, Janice. "Caldecott Medal Committee Chair". American Library Association. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Horn Book Magazine". www.hbook.com. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Awards List". www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 

See also[edit]

Preceded by
The Hello, Goodbye Window
Caldecott Medal recipient
Succeeded by
The Invention of Hugo Cabret