If you aren’t already, don’t forget to blog hop to all the other insightful reviews in the Picture Books 14:14 Challenge! And speaking of hopping, my picture book today is Creepy Carrots! for its suspenseful pacing.
Title: Creepy Carrots!
Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Peter Brown
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012
I read to a lot of kids, and one thing that they almost unanimously love is a book that scares them… but not too much. Aaron Reynolds picks a perfectly scary-but-not-too-scary topic: a rabbit being followed by the very carrots he loves to eat. And the pacing of the story is just as perfect.
As Jasper becomes more and more suspicious that creepy carrots are following him, the pacing of the tale builds more and more suspense. It starts out with a slowly eerie description:
He first noticed something strange after the big game against the East Valley Hares. Jasper was about to help himself to a victory snack…when he heard it. The soft…sinister…tunktunktunk of carrots creeping.
The author uses frequent ellipses and page breaks to string the reader nail-bitingly along. But every time he thinks he sees carrots, he turns around and sees nothing. The story scares, then reassures, scares, then reassures, always leaving a tantalizing what if? What if Jasper isn’t just seeing things? What if the creepy carrots attack him at any moment?
As the tension builds, Jasper becomes jumpier, both his and the readers’ heartbeats are probably pounding faster, and the story’s pace quickens.
They searched under the bed. No creepy carrots.
They looked through the closet. No creepy carrots.
They opened the dresser drawers. No. Creepy. Carrots.
Well, the carrots don’t attack Jasper (not too scary), but Jasper reaches his breaking point. He decides to take care of those creepy carrots once and for all and builds a high fence and crocodile-filled moat around the carrot patch. All is well… until… the author builds suspense one last time before revealing the truth about creepy carrots.