Du Iz Tak?: an example of how literature can generate new linguistic and imaginary possibilities, a beautiful story about the complexity and regenerative potential of life

Carson Ellis, Du Iz Tak?

Published 2016 by Candlewick Press


Carson Ellis, the creator of Home, a very talented artist with extremely creative capacity and intelligence, explores in her second book, Du Iz Tak?, the principles of existence of the micro universes, smaller copies of the human world, following the cycle of life and experimenting the wide variety of emotions life offers.

Somewhere, in a forest or a backyard, a group of anthropomorphized insects live a spectacular experience.


Two damselflies discover a tiny shoot growing and a spectacle of life exposes. Using a bug language (which can be deciphered with little insistence), the insects marvel at the plant unfurling then decide to build a fort and populate it.

Du iz tak?

Ma ebadow unk plonk. Ma nazoot.

Du kimma plonk?

Ellis plays with language and her inventiveness will amuse readers but the story can reveal even without the text, only through the visual. The illustrations are remarkable –  tender, realistic, colourful. While the plant grows and the story progresses we feel the excitement, the curiosity and the joy of the little insects building the fort, attaching a ladder, enjoying the song of the cricket and the taste of a mushroom. While the bugs are building their fort the whole neighbourhood involves, insects come out from their secret homes and participate at the amazing growth of the plant.

the fort.jpg

the spider.jpg

As life is a complex transition from excitement and peace to danger and ephemerality, a spider threats the happiness of the fort, weaving its web over it. However the spider’s supremacy is shortly ruined by the attack of an imposing bird that will eat it, restoring the initial amazement in the life of the little bugs. As compensation, the flower offers the audience a spectacular bud, a celebration of perfection and completion in life.

Soon nature takes its tribute and the flower dies; the insects need to leave their fort (Ta ta, furt) and night comes. Then winter. Then spring. And where the beautiful flower used to grow now there are uncountable shoots waiting to unfurl and be part of beautiful stories that define life.


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