Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Eat your veggies!

It is somehow fitting that the last audiobook I finished in 2014 is also the last of the YMAs that I said I would read/listen to a year ago. It wasn't that Creepy Carrots was the time suck that Middlemarch has been, rather it proved tricky to obtain. Somehow I didn't want to "waste" a hold and as a result I had to wait until December to listen to this 2014 Odyssey Honor audiobook.

Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown's pretty funny picture book (for which Brown won a 2013 Caldecott Honor) has been made into a pretty funny audiobook. It tells the story of one Jasper Rabbit who loves the carrots growing in Crackenhopper Field. But lately he's been feeling a bit paranoid, are those carrots following him? Brown's dark gray palette is enlivened by the bright orange of the carrots ... or is it the bright orange of the handles of the garden shears, or Jasper's rubber ducky, or even [gasp!] the flowers planted in the cemetery. Jasper comes up with a rather drastic solution, one that works out somewhat better for the carrots than for him. A twist that any justice-seeking four-year-old can truly appreciate.

The actor James Naughton reads the text. He's got a friendly bass-baritone that can go a little scary when necessary, and he keeps the pace fairly slow for the page-turning set. He gets to use a little onomatopoeia when the carrots follow Jasper, "tunktunktunk." And when a panicking Jasper shouts "Creepy carrots," Naughton gets a little hysterical.

The publisher, Weston Woods, always goes to town with the music and the sound effects and here is no exception. There's scary laughter (bwaa-ha-ha), giggling carrots, "terrible, carroty breathing," and that tunktunktunk is repeated in the music. A theremin-sounding theme pops up in several spots. When Jasper executes his plan there's a vaguely martial underbed along with the sound effects of sawing and hammering.

But my favorite all-time moment is when Jasper is brushing his teeth and he sees the creepy carrots in the bathroom mirror, peeking around the shower curtain. A short riff from Psycho slips in there to be missed by all the children, but enjoyed by the adults (I am too wimpy to watch this movie).

The last Odyssey committee to reward a picture book before this one was ... mine! Louise is in fine company (although she'd make short work of Jasper).

[Peter Brown has posted on his site some Creepy Carrots-inspired photographs from a bunch of third graders in Winnipeg. A commenter provided a Facebook link to more and the photo above is from that group, with most of the child cropped out.]

Creepy Carrots, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown
Narrated by James Naughton
Music by David Mansfield
Weston Woods, 2013. 0:08

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