Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Peter Brown. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012.
Everybody knows that rabbits love carrots. Jasper Rabbit, in Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, is no exception. Jasper especially loves the carrots that grow in Crackenhopper Field. The problem is that Jasper can’t get enough carrots, yanking and ripping them from the ground every chance he gets. That is, he did until the carrots started following him. Jasper is convinced that the carrots are creeping up on him. But every time he turns around, there is nothing there. By the end of the week, Jasper is seeing creepy carrots everywhere. But Jasper comes up with a plan to ensure no creepy carrots will ever get out of the Crackenhopper carrot patch ever again.
Creepy Carrots has just enough suspense for little ones without really being scary, much like Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet. The great thing is that Jasper solves his problem himself. Of course, his solution to keeping the carrots in the carrot patch also keeps him out of it. While this is a fun story on its own, it is the illustrations that really make this book wonderful!
The illustrations by Peter Brown are primarily in shades of gray. The carrots, in contrast, are orange, as are the objects that are sitting where Jasper thought he saw the carrots creeping up on him. Forget cuddly bunnies! The drawings in this book are more evocative of the original Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock movies than Peter Cottontail. Even the layout of the pictures is in frames as if it were a film noire storyboard.
This is one of those rare children’s picture books that has enduring appeal for the parents who are likely to be asked to read it over and over again. Creepy Carrots should be an enjoyable read for older preschoolers who like a slight scare while being sophisticated and funny enough for elementary-school-aged children. And adults who are fans of classic horror films might want to check out the Creepy Carrots Zone, too.