Monday 21 November 2016

Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis (Walker Books)

We're always championing wordless picture books as a great method of getting early readers to 'read' a story, interpret its meaning...
But how about an entirely different approach? How about developing a child's language skills by showing that even a 'made  up' language can still have meaning and context.

Introducing "Bug Talk", Carson Ellis' hugely fun and original book "Du Iz Tak? (What is it?)" encourages children to indulge in something that actually does come naturally to them. As soon as they start to vocalise, they develop their own lingual code - in fact one of my earliest memories of Charlotte was of her excitedly babbling away to a friend as they were wheeled alongside each other on a trip to the zoo. It was hilarious to watch, they gave an absolutely convincing impression that they could really understand each other and were conversing just like grown ups! Gorgeous!

So in "Du Iz Tak" we meet a crew of gorgeous insects who one day find a tiny green seedling springing up in their favourite meeting place.

Everyone wants to know what it is, and as they chitter and chatter in insect speak, the story gently unfolds - as does the tiny green seedling.

Carson is a hugely talented storyteller, essentially creating a language from scratch takes some doing but more so when it's used to underpin moments of teambuilding, of terror (oh god, spiders, it had to be spiders didn't it) and even a moment where one life changes completely for the better.

Carson's insect characters are utterly brilliant. I remember as a kid being completely entranced by "The Ugly Bug Ball" (70s kids will probably know what I'm on about). This is like a gloriously updated bug story with a serious point to it, and a rather innovative way of engaging with children who are just exercising their tiny little butterfly wings when it comes to reading, storytelling and speaking.

Fab stuff!

Charlotte's favourite bit: When the nasty giant spider takes over the "Furt" - YEEK (but there's a rather delicious pay-off there too!)

Daddy's favourite bit: A hugely original idea that works beautifully, "Du Iz Tak" encourages children to accept language in any form, real or made-up, and use it to great effect in storytelling. What an amazing book!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Walker Books)

"Du Iz Tak" by Carson Ellis is out now, published by Walker.