Ruth Krauss's The Carrot Seed
illustrated by Crockett Johnson
Children's book review by Suzanne Edison.
A classic picture book about believing in oneself
Though this book has been around since 1945, illustrated by the same artist as Harold and the Purple Crayon, it never fails to engage young children.
It has somewhat old-fashioned images of parents and children, in their clothing and parental demeanor. But all children can relate to being told at sometime by someone older, either parents or siblings, that whatever they imagine or believe, won’t work out.
Not that this is what we think we will do as parents. After all, we want to be “supportive” and encourage our young children’s minds, curiosities and endeavors. But let’s face it, we don’t always live up to our own standards.
This story, about a little boy who plants and tends a carrot seed in the belief that it will turn into a carrot, is a chance to redeem ourselves! We can be on the child’s side as we read.
Johnson’s drawings show the child and his needs/imagination at the center of the story. The grown-ups are off to the side of the page leaning into the center of the frame where the child is.
In simple language, no more than one sentence per page and a picture on the opposite page, grown-ups repeat the injunction that the carrot seed won’t turn into a carrot. (Webmaster's note: Our image is a collage: one image combined with two pages of text.) “It won’t come up,” they say. Meanwhile the boy faithfully pursues his idea.
Sometimes children like to join in the repetition of the phrase “It won’t come up.” I also like to ask the child what they think will happen at each step of the story.
There is a delicious visual payoff at the end as the carrot (ah, I’m giving it away…) gains colors that exist nowhere else in the story!
I also love to plant real seeds with kids either inside or outside in the garden, and use The Carrot Seed to help them understand that care and time are needed for all living things to grow, including plants, pets and children.
Read more of Suzanne's reviews.
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