Thursday, April 20, 2017

STUDENTS REACT TO DU IZ TAK? By: Sherri Jones Rivers

There's been a lot of buzz... 

about Carson Ellis' Du Iz Tak? However, most of it
has been from the adults' point of view. "This is a title that calls for multiple readings," said one reviewer.  Another wrote, "I was completely captivated by Ellis's wonderful creatures." I wanted to know for myself how kids reacted to it. The book was passed around in Mrs. Marshall's second grade classroom, along with some questions to get them thinking. A week later, I scheduled a visit and spent some time with the class discussing the book. A big thank you to Mrs. Marshall and her wonderful students--Emma, Wills, Barrett, Eli, Emily, Molly, Caroline, Allie, Keyden,Carter, Ben, Ethan, Layla, Charlotte, and Helen. My group had seven students, and Mrs. Marshall's group had eight. I sat down on the reading carpet with my students and opened the book. The first question:

Does the book make sense to you?

Every student but one said it did, and they really liked the book. 

What do you think the title means?

The consensus was "What is that?", but one student said he thought it meant "Does it talk?", referring to the growing shoot.

What do you think the book is about?

One student said it's about life. It's about the bugs, said another.

What do you think about the bug language?

On the ninth page, when the bugs say, "Icky; ru badda unk ribble," the students thought they were asking Icky to "go get the ladder."

They couldn't stop talking about the "furt." They were sure it meant "fort," but it sounded very similar to another word that brought forth giggles. Several thought the word "su" meant "sure" or "yes."

On the page on which the spider climbs to the top of the flower to make a web, one thought "VOOBECK" meant "get back."  And to another student, "BOOBY" meant "bad boy," referring to the spider and the harm he might inflict.

On the double spread where the characters are all saying "Unk gladdenboot" several students thought it meant "very good" or "great."

What were some of your favorite pages or illustrations?

The students were close observers of the art and especially liked the fact that the snail moved through the pages, initially appearing in the first third of the book as just a pair of eyes. (You can see the yellowish eyes in the bottom left hand corner)

One student loved the page when the flower was fully grown. Another student liked the page where they call for Icky to come out of his log house. They loved looking at the inside of Icky's house and the tiny items there. They noticed the difference in the pages where the creatures were filled with joy, and the pages where they were bent over in despair.

Two differing opinions existed on the page with the bird and the spider. One thought it was awesome with the spider legs hanging out, and one said it was sad the bird/eagle got the spider.

One lone student thought the art was cheesy. 

All in all, I thought it was a spirited discussion on what a class of second graders got from the book. Several teachers thought this book would be good for teaching inferring, as well as phonic skills. The teacher was not familiar with the book beforehand, so I was delighted to be able to introduce her and the class to Du Iz Tak? 


  1. Great idea to go the students for reactions to this book! It was interesting to read their reactions to the different pages you asked about--and interesting to find out their answers parallel many adults'. Sherri, did you have some preconceived ideas of what the students might say and if so, were those ideas reinforced or changed? Thanks for this post!

    1. Thanks, Anne. The only thing I figured was their giggling over the "furt" word. Other than that, I was wide open to what they thought.

  2. What a wonderful lesson for the class! I found the book creative, inventive and worthy of the award. Paying close, thoughtful attention to a story lends new meaning to the joys of reading even the simplest (on the surface) book.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting today. The book has grown on me by seeing it through the kids' eyes.

  3. A very interesting discussion, Sherri! Thanks for doing this. I love how kids respond to this book. Sometimes adult intellect gets in the way of story.

  4. You are so right, Jilanne. We could learn from them! Thanks for posting.

  5. Think I'll pull on by gladdenboots and head out to my garten and listen to the bees and beetles converse for a bit...

    1. Cute, Sue! Thanks for posting. If you listen in on their conversations, maybe you could write the next DU IZ TAK?

  6. So interesting, Sherri! Love this!

    1. Thanks, Patricia. I loved getting the kids' perspective. I hope to go back to her class with another book, maybe next year.