PPBF: The Gigantic Turnip

Celebrating with themes of food, family, and friends this month:

Author: Aleksei Tolstoy
Illustrator: Niamh Sharkey
Publisher: Barefoot Books, 1998
Age Level: 3-7 yrs
Themes: folklore, Russia, gardening, animals, teamwork
Opening: Long ago, an old man and an old woman lived together in a crooked old cottage with a large, overgrown garden.
Summary: (from the publisher) A hilarious retelling of the famous Russian folktale of the turnip that grows and grows and grows.. Simple vocabulary, lots of repetition, and quirky illustrations add to its overall appeal.
Why I like this book: First of all. the opening line is what I think kids will be saying about my house in the future! It’s already 112 years old and the loosening bricks may give a crooked look to the place soon enough! But many of you may know this story already since so many versions have been published. Here is my favorite spread because I love silhouettes  –

Resources/Activities: plant turnips (and more veg/flowers) in the spring; create a lesson about root vegetables, which are not as commonly used anymore (pity!) – and make soup; check out Barefoot Turtle blog for a wonderful ‘chain’ craft idea; reenact the story as a play; read a Spanish/English version too.

33 thoughts on “PPBF: The Gigantic Turnip

  1. Cool sounding book. Another thing to do with turnips is carve them into jack o lanterns — that’s apparently what people used when they didn’t have pumpkins. Can’t imagine it, myself, but I’ve read it, so it must be true! 😉

    Thanks, Julie!


    • I’d heard that too, and believe it – the pumpkins I could find when I first went to Germany in the eighties were very pale so they were probably not an attractive first choice, plus I heard they would carve then carry the turnips on sticks – pumpkins would have been a bit heavy!


    • Me too. I recently complained at the library because they ‘don’t have room’ for the folktales-stand I liked to browse through since they renovated, though the space is larger now. I figure since I am one of their best ‘customers’ they should listen to me – lol!


  2. This looks great, Julie! I think I’ve read an Irish version – Jamie O’Toole and the Giant Tatie or something along those lines… I don’t think that’s quite right 🙂 Anyway, I love folk tales and retellings and this looks very fun! Thanks for adding it to our list 🙂


  3. Beautiful choice, Julie! I also love folktales…they have so much truth and humor in them…I will definitely try to get a copy of this one…the spread almost reminded me of Wanda Gag’s “Millions of Cats”. 🙂


  4. Pingback: Lin Yi's Lantern Book Review - The Barefoot Social

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