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Creepy Carrots

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Creepy Carrots
Simon and Schuster

Introduction

If you are looking for a picture book for younger kids that's more silly scary than seriously scary, Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds is the book you need. It's a great read aloud and the black and orange illustrations by Peter Brown add greatly to the fearsome fun. While it's not s Halloween book, Creepy Carrots! is a good book to share at Halloween time, especially if you are looking for one without ghosts, zombies, monsters or other scary creatures.

The Story and Illustrations

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. He eats them morning, noon and night. He always gets them from Crackenhopper Field because they were not only free to anyone who wanted to take some, but Jasper thought they were the best carrots to be found because they were big and crisp. On his way to school, Jasper would stop at the field and yank some carrots and eat them. He'd do the same thing after school and in the evening. He just loved carrots!

However, one day the carrots started following Jasper Rabbit or at least, he thought they did. First, he heard the "soft...sinister...tunktunktunk of carrots creeping." Although he didn't see any creepy carrots when he turned around, Jasper was frightened and quickly hopped home. That night, he thought he saw creepy carrots in the bathroom but still he went to the field the next morning and pulled and ate carrots.

However, that night Jasper thought he saw creepy csrrots in the shed next to his house and again in his bedroom. Despite his parents' reassurance, Jasper couldn't sleep that night. All week, Jasper kept seeing creepy carrots. Did he really see them? Jasper was sure that there was a way to solve the problem. His solution solved his problem, but in a humorous twist it also solved the creepy carrots' problem, a greedy rabbit.

How do you make a story about creepy carrots at all scary? It takes a simple, well-told story and very clever atmospheric illustrations that create a scary - but not too scary - mood. Peter Brown's illustrations were, according to the publisher's information, "rendered in pencil on paper and then digitally composited and colored."

Brown uses color especially effectively in setting the mood. Every page has a black border. The illustrations are in shades of black and brown, with bright orange for the carrots and things Jasper thinks are "creepy csrrots." The sky is always hazy and overcast and much of the action takes place at night when it's dark outside.

Honors

Author Aaron Reynolds

Aaron Reynolds has written numerous children's books, including the Joey Fly, Private Eye graphic novel series, which is illustrated by Neil Numberman; Superhero School, illustrated by Andy Rash; Chicks and Salsa, illustrated by Paulette Bogan and Back of the Bus, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. He earned a degree in Theatre at Illinois Wesleyan University. (Sources: Aaron Reynolds, Simon & Schuster)

Illustrator Peter Brown

Peter Brown graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In addition to illustrating Creepy Carrots and several other books written by others, Peter Brown has written and illustrated a number of children's picture books, including You Will Be My Friend!, Children Make Terrible Pets and Chowder. The award-winning picture book The Curious Garden, which Peter Brown wrote and illustrated, is on my list of the Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009. (Sources: Peter Brown Studio, Simon & Schuster)

My Recommendation

Creepy Carrots is a fun read aloud to share with 3 to 6 year olds any time of year. Because of the tone of the story and the illustrator's use of black and orange throughout the book, it's especially good for Halloween sharing. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. ISBN: 9781442402973)

More Picture Book Fun for Younger Children

If you're looking for more picture books you can use for Halloween, I recommend Tucker's Spooky Halloween, by Leslie McGuirk, for ages 3 to 5 and By the Light of the Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson, with illustrations by Kevin Hawkes, for ages 6 to 8.

For books to read at bedtime, try Margaret Wise Brown's classic, Goodnight Moon, illustrated by Clement Hurd, and Kiss Good Night, written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram.

Other picture books I recommend for younger children include: The Carrot Seed, written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Crockett Johnson; Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson; and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, with illustrations by Lois Ehlert.

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