by Carson Ellis
School Library Journal 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.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly 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.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list *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
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.