cover image The Giant Carrot

The Giant Carrot

Jan Peck. Dial Books, $18.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1823-4

Peck transforms the old Russian folktale about a turnip into a rustic Texas yarn about a carrot that grows enormous enough to meet the needs of an entire family. When tall Papa Joe decides to plant a carrot seed so ""come summer, when it's grown, [he can] drink a tall glass of carrot juice,"" he discovers that his family has other plans for the vegetable. Wide Mama Bess has her heart set on ""a wide bowl of carrot stew,"" and strong Brother Abel craves ""a jar of strong carrot relish."" They dig the earth, plant the seed and water it carefully, but only ""sweet Little Isabelle['s]"" singing and dancing can make the carrot grow. Peck's linguistic repetitions and folksy dialect sometimes strain for effect (""Well, [says Brother Abel] for cryin' in a bucket""), but Root's (Someplace Else) depiction of the family's dirt farm and ramshackle log cabin are full of sunshine and energy. His carrot-colored earth, cornflower blue skies and popcorn-like clouds look good enough to eat, but nothing can equal the endearing insouciance of Little Isabelle's dance as the carrot begins ""to shiver and shake and quiver and quake"" and pops right out of the ground. A recipe for ""Little Isabelle's Carrot Puddin' "" is included at the end of the book. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)