Friday, September 25, 2015

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss; pictures by Crockett Johnson (1945)

Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson were married.  Crockett Johnson also wrote and illustrated the more famous Harold and the Purple Crayon ten years later (although The Carrot Seed still has some cachet, just not as much as Harold).    Johnson must have liked a simple palette; his illustrations are certainly simple enough.  Harold doesn't have many colors, and I think Carrot Seed has even less. - browns and yellows and tans.  It's sort of dull.  Perhaps in 1945, the military had all the cool colors and rationing left Crockett with just a few dull ones.

I've read two other of Krauss's books, A Hole is to Dig and Open House for Butterflies.  Her partner in illustration for those was Maurice Sendak, and those are far more successful outings, although The Carrot Seed is more well known.  A Hole is to Dig is sweetly revolutionary, particularly when it comes to gender; Open House for Butterflies is way out there; parts of it could have been a manifesto for 1960s peace and protest movement; Thoreau would have been comfortable taking it to Walden Pond.

The Carrot Seed has that can-do attitude that found in The Little Engine That Could (published about 15 years earlier).  Just coming out of World War II (ending around the time The Carrot Seed was hitting the shelves), American children probably needed to hear that their dreams could come true - regardless of what everyone told them, their carrots would thrive.  This boy - who looks like Harold's older brother - just doesn't give a flying fart about  anyone's opinions - his carrot IS going to come up, by damn.  He doesn't need to argue about either; in fact, he doesn't ever say anything at all.  He just gives everyone a sort of Mona Lisa smile.

And, of course, the carrot does come up.  And it's huge. The can-do, never quit attitude worked.

Although maybe the carrot boy is some sort of witch?

______________

SURPRISE.  I've read and reviewed this before!!!  And my Goodreads review fucking kicks ass!!!

The Carrot SeedThe Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The moral of this story is "keep on keepin' on."  Or, "don't stop believing."  Or "illegitimi non carborundum."  Or "the power of positive thinking."  Or "fuck off."  Or "don't trust anyone over 30."  Or "don't let the man keep you down."  Or "I think I can, I think I can."  Or "patience is a virtue."  Or "Well done is better than well said."   Or "the scorners delight in their scorning."  Or "hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire" - or the carrot - "cometh it is the tree of life."  Or "hope springs eternal."


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