Flotsam by David Wiesner.
Wiesner is one of those authors/illustrators that you know is going to create something amazing every time he publishes a book. And this book lives up to that reputation.
This wordless picture book follows a boy playing by the seashore. When he is slammed by a wave, he discovers a camara washed up on the shore. He rushes to a one-hour photo shop to develop the film and reload the camera. What he sees in the photographs is amazing and inspires him to take his own picture and then return the camera once again to the sea.
Wiesner has captured the pure exhilaration of exploring a beach. From the sandy endpapers and the first image of a boy’s eye looking at a crab, the reader is captured. The realism in the illustrations is the perfect foil for the magical fantasy world revealed in the photographs the boy develops. The photographs are done with the same realism, tricking the eye for a second before you discover the strangeness of what you are really seeing.
This is not a book for a crowd. It is a book for a small group to savor. I can see it inspiring all sorts of art projects based on other realistic settings with fantastical elements. I can see it inspiring writing about the worlds that are glimpsed on the pages. And I can see the book being asked for again and again by children who want to simply create their own story for a few minutes.