Ma ebadow unk plonk.
Du kimma plonk?
Ru badda unk ribble.
This entirely unique and imaginative new book from Carson Ellis is going to make some people very uncomfortable - those who need to know exactly what is going on. In fact, it is not that difficult to work out what you think these insects are saying to each other. They do speak their own language. For those who need answers, there are none. We are left to our own devices to assume we know how their conversation goes. That is what makes it so witty and rare.
From the opening spread, we are introduced to their talk as two winged and elegantly dressed creatures point to a green shoot, one asking: "Du iz tak?" The other responds: "Ma nazoot." And so it goes. They watch carefully as the green shoot grows and changes. They are accompanied by a ladybug who also has something to say.
Meanwhile, on the facing page, we spy a caterpillar as it makes its way up a twig, says its goodbye to all and quickly forms a chrysalis. The insects take note as well, making a fuss over it. They then call on the inhabitant of the log to take a look at their plant. He proffers the ladder requested, sits back to watch the action. Others are more interested during nighttime hours. The action builds, the reader becomes more involved in everything that is happening, and in the additional stories being played out.
The insects are beautifully crafted. The author uses white space to encourage our full attention to all that is happening on each spread, to the creatures' sizes, and to the seasonal changes. (I was not always sure where to direct my attention at the turn of a page - and that is part of its charm.) Their story is told solely in dialogue between the characters who are mesmerized by their quite remarkable discovery.
When all attention is focused at the very top of their plant, each one of them stops to share amazement at its beauty ... "Unk scrivadelly gladdenboot!" Their tale is done. They quietly disappear; the scene returns, through a series of quiet actions, to its nearly original state, and to the title question. It makes one consider what is happening on the ground beneath our feet. Carson Ellis has created an
impressive version of just that might be.