Autumn Picture Book Releases from Candlewick Press {Du Iz Tak?, We Found a Hat, and Also an Octopus)


Picture books are loads of fun for children of all ages. I personally find them to be especially nice for younger children. Not only can we read a fun story together, but my son enjoys studying the illustrations on each page. As the temperatures drop here in New York, we've been snuggling up on the couch with some of the latest autumn picture book releases from Candlewick Press.

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive to gander, and soon—with the help of a pill bug named Icky—they wrangle a ladder and build a tree fort. But this is the wild world, after all, and something horrible is waiting to swoop down—booby voobeck!—only to be carried off in turn. Su! With exquisitely detailed illustrations and tragicomic flair, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in even the humblest backyard. Su!

I can tell you that this is unlike any picture book that we've ever had the privilege of reading. You see it's written in a make-believe bug language. The first time that I glanced at this, I wasn't sure if I was a fan. I thought it might be too confusing for a preschooler who is still trying to build up on their vocabulary of "real life" words. As we turned each page, I realized that no matter what language this is (real or made up), we can use our own imaginations to tell the story. By just studying the illustrations and the punctuation marks used in the text, we were able to grasp what the story could really be about. 

So what is Du Iz Tak? about?

Du Iz Tak? (What is that?)
Ma nazoot. (I don't know)
Ma ebadow unk plonk (I think that is a plant)
Du kimma plonk? (What kind of plant?)

What I've written in the parentheses, above, is not necessarily what the words truly mean, but you can see that it's tons of fun trying to figure them out. A group of insects gather around a growing sprout. Throughout the days they admire it, and eventually start to build homes around it. The story then takes many turns of crazy events. My son got a kick out of the various insects. With their amusing artistic details, each creature is brought to life and given a certain persona. I won't give anything else away–you'll just have to see for yourself.

Sometimes less is more in the grand scheme of things. I'm not going to lie, even though I initially had my reservations, this book turned out to be a lot of fun to read. Besides, when do you get the chance to blurt out random words while reading? Saying the made-up words out loud really turned on the giggles, and it was even more fun trying to decipher the story's plot line. You definitely have to think outside of the box with this one, but I totally recommend picking it up.

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike.

This book is quite simple in text, but shares a very important moral to the story. It begins with two turtle buddies who both find a hat. There's two of them, but only one hat. They both admire it, try it on, but ultimately decide that it wouldn't be fair if only one them got to keep the hat, so they leave it where it is. Turtle number one finds it easy to let go, even though he really likes the hat, but turtle number two, not so much. Not willing to let go, turtle number two plans a dishonest scheme and is ready to go through with it. He then listens to what turtle number one has to say about a recent dream he had. Will it change the other turtle's mind?

With so little words, We Found a Hat can actually teach children about the importance of friendship, honestly, loyalty, and maybe even sharing. My son just loves this book, and asks me to read it to him almost everyday.

Also an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

 It begins with an octopus who plays the ukulele. Since this is a story, the octopus has to want something—maybe to travel to faraway galaxies in a totally awesome purple spaceship. Then the octopus sets out to build a spaceship out of soda cans, glue, umbrellas, glitter, and waffles. OK, maybe the octopus needs some help, like from an adorable bunny friend, and maybe that bunny turns out to be . . . a rocket scientist? (Probably not.) But could something even more amazing come to pass? Debut author Maggie Tokuda-Hall, with the help of illustrator Benji Davies, sets up an endearingly funny story, then hands the baton to readers, who will be more than primed to take it away. 

Given my son's love for seas creatures, just one look at the octopus on the front cover and he was immediately intrigued. This book offers something a little different, because it actually dives into the fundamentals of putting a good story together. The tale begins with nothing (literally a blank page) and then adds on a few characters like a little girl, a bunny, and also a ukulele playing octopus. Then a main plot is needed, so we have the octopus and his "intergalactic dreams" of making a rocket to fly into outer space. Through many attempts he fails, but all hope is not lost.

The storyline takes on many twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. It also shows how the conclusion of a story might not always go as planned (almost like a parallel to real life). The illustrations by Benji Davies are a lot of fun! Since this is a book that tells a tale of writing an actual story, there are a ton of different pictures for my son to admire as we turn through each page.

Also an Octopus is an adorable children's book that touches up on the idea that everybody has what it takes to create a fascinating story–all you need is a blank canvas and a little imagination.

When temperatures drop and outside playtime is far and few between, it's nice to be able to cozy on up to some great books. These three from Candlewick Press are the perfect addition to our storytime activities. Be sure to also check out the rest of this season's new releases for more great book selections!