Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Stories Behind the Pictures #2

Analyzing the Stories Behind this Year’s Caldecotts
Day 2—Creepy Carrots!

Creepy Carrots
Written by Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by Peter Brown
Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers

Wanna hear a perfect pitch for a picture book? Just read the front flap copy of Creepy Carrots: “Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. And he can take the fattest crispiest carrots from Crackenhopper Field anytime he wants. That is, until they start following him home . . .” If you don’t want to read this book after that, then you may not be a picture book writer or a kid!

Of course, this book was named as a Caldecott Honor Book because of Peter Brown’s illustrations, and they are award worthy. Each page is framed in black, reminiscent of a movie screen. The color palate is limited—black, white, and orange—similar to black-and-white movies of yesteryear. The monstrous carrots who haunt the sweet rabbit hero are enough to make your skin crawl. Brown has perfectly depicted Reynolds’ humorous horror story of carrot revenge.

Reynolds’ text follows a traditional plot structure. An expository segment introduces the main character, Jasper Rabbit, and his love for carrots is established. By the third page, the problem is introduced when we see the menacing shadows of carrots and read the line, “ . . . until they started following him.” Jasper has three carrot stalking sightings. An extended dark moment comes one evening when Jasper’s creepy carrot cries cause his parents to search the house from top to bottom. Jasper’s parents are convinced there is no need to worry, and that there’s no such thing as creepy carrots. But Jasper knows better. Finally he arrives at the solution for his problem. He builds a fence around the carrot patch. His plan had worked. Then comes a unexpected twist in the story. Inside the fence the carrots cheer . . . Their creepy plan had worked

If you’re confused by plotting, never heard of Freytag’s pyramid, or want to know how to create a well-balanced story, study this book.

Creepy Carrots is a 435-word picture book. If I were using it with my younger students (which I plan to do) I would point out the variety of writing craft used in the manuscript. So here goes:
          -Sentence Variety
                    -Short sentences
                    -Compound sentences
                    -One-word sentences
                    -Sentence openers, interrupters, and closers
                    -All caps
          -Vivid verbs
          -Proper nouns—that are interesting and unique
          And much more!

This is a not-to-be-missed picture book. Grab a copy of Creepy Carrots and a bowlful of crispy carrots, dive in, and enjoy a master class in writing craft and picture book plotting!  


Tina Cho said...

That is a perfect pitch! Thanks for analyzing the book!

Diane Kress Hower said...

I agree with Tina, perfect pitch. Thanks for sharing.