Just about everyone has a vegetable horror story dating back to childhood. Mine features Brussels Sprouts. So predictable, I know. This shared experience of vegetable trauma is why Aaron Reynolds’ new picture book, Creepy Carrots! is so hilarious. Haven’t we all feared veggies at one point or another? Personally, I wouldn’t have named carrots as the freakiest vegetable. Until now.
Jasper Rabbit is kinda piggy, for a bunny. He can’t get enough of the first class carrots that grow in Crackenhopper Field. They are snappy and fat and free. So he helps himself without a second thought. Then, the carrots start following him. Jasper starts to think he hears and sees carrots creeping around in the shadows. He knows it’s ridiculous, but he can’t shake the idea. That’s what paranoia does to a rabbit. Pretty soon he imagines there are creepy carrots everywhere. Is Jasper losing it, or will the carrots finally get him in the end?
There’s a vintage quality to the book that comes from the tongue-in-cheek humour and the kid-friendly Twilight Zone scenario. Reynolds succeeds in infusing plenty of suspense in his tidy text. Plenty of ellipses encourage pauses to enhance dramatic effect, but things never get too serious. For instance, I love these lines: “Jasper was about to help himself to a victory snack… when he heard it. The soft…sinister… tunktunktunk of carrots creeping.” Great stuff. I appreciate how you can enjoy this story for pure entertainment, but its humour and silliness could also be a safe entry point for getting kids talking about fears.
Peter Brown’s artwork is dynamite. Talk about creating perfect atmosphere. It’s super stylish and with all of the different angles and perspectives you definitely get a cinematic feeling that works beautifully with the text. The way that the orange pops out against all of the muted grey tones helps readers to see things the way Jasper does. He’s got his eyes peeled for orange, and it’s there, always there. Check out the great video Brown made about his process:
Creepy Carrots is about as cute as a horror story can get. You’ll never look at your veggies the same way again. This one deserves every bit of praise it’s getting.
Creepy Carrots is published by Simon and Schuster.