Cover image for Du iz tak?
Du iz tak?


Physical Description:
1 audio disc : color illustrations ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 book (unpaged).
General Note:
Compact disc.

"E. B. White Read Aloud award."

"Caldecott honor book."

Accompanying book by Carson Ellis, published by Candlewick Press.

Music by Sarah Hart.
Track 1: story with page-turn signals (8:07) -- Track 2: story without page-turn signals (7:53) -- Track 3: The Gladdenboot song (0:55).
Local Subject:
Readers are invited to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in the natural world, even the humblest back garden! With exquisitely-detailed illustration that will appeal to children and art-lovers alike, and a wonderfully playful invented language, we soon find ourselves speaking "Bug" ... Du iz tak? What is that?


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A 2017 Caldecott Honor Book

The creator of Home turns a droll eye to the natural world, with gorgeous art and a playful invented language.

Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive to gander, and soon--with the help of a pill bug named Icky--they wrangle a ladder and build a tree fort. But this is the wild world, after all, and something horrible is waiting to swoop down-- booby voobeck! --only to be carried off in turn. Su! With exquisitely detailed illustrations and tragicomic flair, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in even the humblest backyard. Su!

Author Notes

Carson Ellis was born in Vancouver, Canada on October 5, 1975. She received a BFA in painting from the University of Montana in Missoula in 1998. She has illustrated several children's books including The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, and The Wildwood Chronicles series by her husband Colin Meloy. She received a 2010 Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for her art in Dillweed's Revenge by Florence Parry Heide. She also creates album art, t-shirts, websites, posters, and stage sets for the rock band The Decemberists.

Carson's picture book, Home, made the New York Times bestseller list in March of 2015. She is the author of the bestseller Du iz tak?.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ellis's (Home) bewitching creation stars a lively company of insects who speak a language unrelated to English, and working out what they are saying is one of the story's delights. In the first spread, two slender, elegantly winged creatures stand over a green shoot. "Du iz tak?" says the first, pointing. The other puts a hand to its mouth in puzzlement. "Ma nazoot," it says. The insects marvel at the plant as it grows, build a fort in it (complete with pirate flag), exclaim as it produces a spectacular flower ("Unk scrivadelly gladdenboot!"), then disappear one by one, like actors exiting the stage. Observant readers will notice other changes over the course of the seasons: a fabulously hairy caterpillar spins a cocoon on a dead log, the log opens to reveal a cozy dwelling, and what looks like a twig atop the log is not a twig at all. Ellis renders the insects with exquisite, baroque precision, outfitting them with hats, eyeglasses, and tweed jackets; in a romantic interlude one serenades another with a violin. Generous expanses of cream-colored empty space emphasize the smallness and fragility of these living beings, who move busily along the forest floor at the bottom edge of the pages. Very gently, Ellis suggests that humans have no idea what wonders are unfolding at their feet-and that what takes place in the lives of insects is not so different from their own. Has there ever been anything quite like it? Ma nazoot. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Picture books have traditionally been a rich source of neologisms. Grinch, knuffle: plums in the puddings of picture book texts. In this story, told in dialogue, Ellis pushes that tradition and invents an entire language. On the first spread an elongated Edwardian-style dragonfly points to a small green shoot poking out of the ground. Du iz tak? the creature asks its equally elegant companion. Ma nazoot, is the reply. We decode the meaning from the picture, much in the way an emerging or ESL reader might. (The giant expanse of creamy page gives us room to ponder.) Five words, and were already starting to get a handle on the grammar. The green shoot grows, and a different group of sartorially splendid bugs, this time a trio, has its say. The bugs need something: Ru badda unk ribble. What is a ribble, and where will they get it? Page design and language get progressively fancier as the bug people build a tree house -- with the use of the ribble -- in the plant. Joy explodes when the plant flowers. Unk gladdenboot! Unk scrivadelly gladdenboot! Then fall comes, the plant withers, and the bug family moves on. In a wordless coda of successive double-page spreads we are comforted by the cycle of the seasons. By the final words, Du iz tak? we are fluent speakers of Bug. Completely scrivadelly, this is a tour de force of original storytelling. sarah ellis(c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Ellis (Home, 2015) elevates gibberish to an art form with her brilliant account of a few bugs who discover a green shoot sprouting from the ground. Du iz tak? a dapper wasp asks upon seeing it. Ma nazoot, comes the puzzled reply. Next, three beetles come across the young plant, which has grown a little higher, and the question goes around again, Du iz tak? This time, they go to a nearby log to borrow a ribble (ladder) from Icky the pill bug so that they can sit on its highest leaves. The bugs' curiosity and excitement grows along with the plant, which eventually blossoms into a magenta flower. Soon the bugs have built a magnificent furt among its leaves, complete with a rope swing and pirate flag. Eventually, colder weather moves in (evidenced in the sweaters and hats the beetles don), the flower wilts, and the bugs bid their furt adieu. Readers and prereaders alike will find myriad visual cues in Ellis' splendid folk-style gouache-and-ink illustrations that will allow them to draw meaning from the nonsensical dialogue, as well as observe the subtle changing of the seasons. The entire story unfolds on the same small stretch of ground, where each new detail is integral to the scene at hand. Effortlessly working on many levels, Ellis' newest is outstanding.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

ONE OF THE wonders of literature is its potential to generate worlds that are strange and unreal and yet entirely believable. "I wish I could be there!" we say with a mix of excitement and yearning when we are immersed in such an imaginary place. But it is difficult to create a world, even a tiny one, and some authors are more successful than others at playing demiurge, as three new picture books show. The forest, where so many such literary worlds are found, is the classic setting chosen by Emily Winfield Martin ("The Wonderful Things You Will Be") for her fourth picture book, "The Littlest Family's Big Day." One morning, a father bear, a mother bear, a child bear and a baby fox move into a tree trunk in the middle of the woods. As soon as they're settled, they go for a walk. We're told that they meet and greet a series of little animals and some elves, though oddly we don't see them together with the other creatures. They then follow the breeze and find the wind, which Martin depicts by showing flying fairies and butterflies. Using leaves as canoes, the family paddles down the river. A lizard standing on a lily pad sticks his tongue out at them. Given his placement at the margin of the right page and directly in the foursome's way, you might think he is trying to block their passage or otherwise interact with them, but when you turn the page the lizard is gone and the family is eating strawberries back on shore. When the rain starts - the narrator tells us it "pelted down," but we only see a few drops - they run for cover under a mushroom. While we're still waiting to learn what their diminutive size has to do with the story, they realize they are "Lost," and the capital L gives us a hint of what the real theme of the book might be. This comes in an arresting two-page spread, with a bold composition and contrasted palette of light and dark shades. But already on the next page they are "Found" by an owl. Given the difference in size and the natural disposition of raptors, I was hoping for at least some uncertainty regarding the owl's intentions, but the protagonists' composure makes it clear they are in no danger. In fact, they are flown home, where an expressionless crowd of tiny critters - the same ones they greeted earlier in the book - surprises them with a dinner party. The critters are all even smaller than the "littlest" family, which contributes to my confusion about what this fuzzily illustrated story is about. IN "DU IZ TAK?," her second picture book as both author and illustrator after "Home," Carson Ellis has created a fantastic microcosm with her usual grace and inventiveness. Her imaginary land is delightfully welcoming, even if - or especially because - it is also a realistic world, one with joys and dangers, achievements and disappointments (not to mention pipe-smoking roly-polies). In a made-up but easily decipherable language, Ellis presents a group of fun-loving bugs excited to discover a fast-growing plant. They build a fort on it, complete with a rope ladder, an acorn-topped chimney and a pirate flag. The bugs enjoy their time up there, playing, reading and eating mushrooms. But a fun-killing spider takes over the fort, to the rage and dismay of its legitimate owners. In an even more dramatic scene, a bird gobbles up the spider. While the bugs clean up the mess, a beautiful, large blossom appears on the plant. More creatures come to witness the magnificent spectacle in a spread that seems to be a celebration of life itself. Soon, though, the inevitable happens: The blossom wilts, the plant dies, the bugs leave. It's suddenly and magically nighttime. A cocoon that for the whole book has seemed to wait patiently to be part of the story finally opens. A moth comes out and dances elegantly to the music played by a cricket violinist. Then the snow makes everything still. But springtime, of course, arrives next, bringing new plants, bugs and stories. Many more amusing incidents should be left for the reader to discover. Given the genuinely handmade and idiosyncratic style through which Ellis once again demonstrates her mastery, I don't understand her decision to copy and paste certain elements of the drawings over and over again, in particular the digitally repurposed log and ground, which are such essential pieces of the composition of each spread. While most things in the pictures change, develop and even die, the log and the ground stay virtually the same through the four seasons, down to every paint stroke. Ellis might have intended this as a device to emphasize the growing of everything else around a few unchanging elements, but for me it breaks the spell of a lifelike universe created by hand. Even so, I was completely captivated by Ellis's wonderful creatures, their charming little world and their droll language. jon klassen'S typical minimalism reaches a new level of refinement in "We Found a Hat" - in my opinion the best and most stirring in his hat trilogy, which includes the Caldecott Medal winner "This Is Not My Hat." The story, unusually for a picture book, is told in three parts, each with a title. Without this subdivision, one wouldn't have the same reading experience, and that would be a shame. The first part opens against a flat, gray backdrop. Two turtles, identifiable by the different designs on their shells, find a tall and white cowboy hat. They both like it very much, and agree it looks good on each. But they immediately see the unresolvable problem: two turtles and only one hat. The best thing to do, they decide, is to leave the hat where it is, and move on. But Klassen, with his usual light touch, shows us that one of the turtles is already having selfish second thoughts. The second part finds the two watching the sunset from the top of a rock in the middle of what is now clearly a desert. But while one turtle is thinking of the sunset, the other, when asked, says she's thinking of "nothing." We know that's not true: The white hat is still on her mind. The third and final part - the most dramatic - presents a moral dilemma, a hard-to-resist temptation and a compassionate, lyrical resolution. Klassen, who speaks the language of the picture book like few other authors and illustrators these days, has created a masterpiece of honest feelings, emotional tension and poetic restraint. The digital artwork maintains the warmth and texture of graphite, the colors are subtly alluring, and thankfully, his own repeated reuse of some of the elements is adequately concealed. All this helps the reader feel immersed in a world that might be minimal, but is entirely credible. I wish I could be there! SERGIO RUZZIER is the author and illustrator of picture books including, most recently, "Two Mice" and "This Is Not a Picture Book!"

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-Using intricate illustrations supported by spare dialogue in an invented language, Ellis elegantly weaves the tale of several square feet of ground in the insect world as the seasons pass. Multiple story lines intersect: a mysterious plant bursting from the soil, the rise and fall of a spectacular fort, and a caterpillar's quiet then triumphant metamorphosis into a shimmering moth. The illustrations demand to be pored over, with exquisite attention to detail, from the extravagantly dressed anthropomorphized insects in top hats to the decor of Icky the pill bug's tree-stump home. Much of the book's action occurs on the lower halves of the pages, the ample white space emphasizing the small world of the critters. As the flower and fort grow together and larger animals come into play, the illustrations take up more vertical space until the climax, when the plant blooms and is revealed to be a "gladenboot" (flower) and all of the insects come out to rejoice. As the weather cools, readers are treated to a delightful nighttime spread of the moth finally emerging and flying to a cricket's tune as the decayed flower's seeds dance all around. Though this could nearly work as a wordless book, the invented, sometimes alienlike language seemingly contains real syntax and offers readers the opportunity to puzzle over the meanings of the words and tell the story using their own interpretations. VERDICT This is a title that calls for multiple readings, as there is something new to be discovered each time. Perfect for one-on-one or small group sharing.-Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Viewers follow the unfurling of an exotic woodland plant through the actions and invented language of beautifully coiffed and clothed insects. The nonsense narrative is presented through dialogue. Because the conversations connect to specific phenomena and many words are repeated, decoding occurs fairly quickly. Du iz tak? (Probably: What is that?) Ma ebadow unk plonk. (Perhaps: I think its a plant.) The true meaning is anyones guess, but therein lies the fun. A large trim size and an abundance of white space on the opening pages send readers eyes to the delicate ink-and-gouache winged creatures and the small green shoot at the base of the spreads. Over several days and nights, the scene builds: a caterpillar forms a cocoon; a snail emerges from its well-appointed log to lend a ribble (ladder) so its friends can build a furt in the rising stalk; a cricket fiddles in the moonlight. Danger appearsa menacing spider that seems intent on caging the plant in its web until an enormous bird swoops in, altering the course of events. But there is glory too as the gladdenboot blooms and the encapsulated moth takes flight. This is certain to ignite readers interest and imaginings regarding their natural surroundings. Following the minute changes as the pages turn is to watch growth, transformation, death, and rebirth presented as enthralling spectacle. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.