What happens when a prepared, science-minded boy goes to the beach and finds a magical, underwater, old-timey camera? David Wiesner, King of Picture Books, has put together yet another beautifully illustrated book that tells a magical tale of what really happens under the ocean waves.
[SPOILER] The story starts out when a young beachcomber finds a barnacle encrusted Melville Underwater Camera washed up upon the shore, tangled in seaweed. Trying to find its rightful owner, he takes the film found in the camera to be developed at a local one-hour photo lab. You may have to explain to your child what film is at this point in the story.
After an excruciating hour of waiting for the film from the mystery camera, the boy becomes wide-eyed with the amazing pictures that have developed. There is a mechanical fish swimming in a school, octopi sitting comfortably on the couches in their living room, teeny tiny green faced aliens vacationing underwater, and enormous starfish islands that walk around when no one is looking!
On the last print, there is a picture of a young girl, holding a picture of a young boy, holding a picture of another young boy, holding a picture of another girl. It is sort of a Droste effect except none of the pictures are the same but lead the reader to the conclusion many children have found the camera over the years and have returned it to the ocean for others to find.
The young boy is ready to explore the picture to the very last photo carrying child and pulls out his magnifying glass and then microscope to closer inspect the photo at 70x. Each picture on the page takes you back ten years and the film goes from color to sepia to black and white.
The boy then takes a picture of himself with the print with all the children and tosses the Melville camera back into the ocean where seahorses pull it back into an enchanted world before it washes up on shore again and finds its way to its next recipient on a tropical beach.
This picture book is really wonderful and your child will never look at a day at the beach in the same way. Wiesner really goes all out with his imagination on its pages. Every child should have one of his books on their bedtime shelves and this book, without words, can be enjoyed by even the most beginner readers in your family.
My girls have loved this book since they were three and have enjoyed making up their own words to each illustration found on each page!