A few days ago, I posted about Stuck, one of our favorite silly picture books to read. Up today, I’ve got another laugh-inducing picture book for you– Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis. In Du Iz Tak? we meet a wonderful community of insects, bugs, and spiders that observe with awe and wonder a new plant shooting up in their area. Written in a completely made-up language and illustrated in delightful detail, you and your children will love reading and listening to this one over and over again!
So, what makes Du Iz Tak? so special? For starters, reading a story written in a made-up language is challenging, unique, fun, and possibly changing with every reading. I think “Du iz tak?” means “What is that?” but I couldn’t tell you for sure. I have fun reading the conversation among at least 9 members of the community that reads “Unk gladdenboot! / Iz unk gladdenboot! / Unk scrivadelly gladdenboot! / Iz tak unk gladdenboot? / Unk gladdenboot!” While I have an idea of what each character is saying, I’m not positive I’m right… And that’s one of the beauties of this book! (But know that the whole story does indeed translate word for word to English, for those who really want to know what “scrivadelly” means).
Made-up language aside, Ellis’s illustrations are delightful, detailed, and incredibly expressive. You could easily read the whole story by simply looking at each character’s facial expressions and body language alone (which is important to do, since it’s written in made-up words…). It’s easy to see when they’re confused, delighted, scared, and more. Their curiosity is inspiring, their wonder and joy childlike, their creativity motivating, and their friendship refreshing. I wouldn’t mind being a fly on their wall (pun intended…)!
And the hidden details abound! I had probably read this story at least 20 times over the past few years before I noticed one character camoflauged in with her friends. And, the only reason I noticed her was because my 3.5-year-old daughter pointed her out! Many characters wear some sort of clothing or accessories that give us extra insight into their different personalities. But despite these details, most illustrations are done on an immense cream background, allowing us even more focus on the development of the plot, the language, and the characters.
Do you prefer for your read-aloud picture books to have deeper meanings or more obvious learning opportunities? Fear not– you can certainly take Du Iz Tak? deeper if you want to! You can talk about life cycles, food chains, and seasons for some science tie-ins. Du Iz Tak? would also make a wonderful mentor text for a creative writing opportunity for older children. Challenge them to write their own stories in made-up languages and see what happens!
Or, just put on your best silly accent and laugh with your kiddos. That’s okay, too!
Publishers recommend for ages 4-8, but this is terrifically fun for children of all ages!
If you liked this, check out:
- They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
- Bad Day at Riverbend by Chris Van Allsburg — You can read my mini review here.
- Stuck by Oliver Jeffers — You can read my full review here.
In mind mind, the snail on my book is also saying, “Du iz tak?” What do you think he’s saying? (No snails were harmed in the exploring of this book, by the way!).