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The Gigantic Turnip (Barefoot Beginners) Hardcover – February 1, 1999

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Waiting
Waiting
Waiting is a big part of childhood. Waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen. However, now a child sets the stage and pulls the strings in a timeless, heartfelt picture book about imaginative play, friendship, and surprises. Paperback | More for ages 3-5

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Up-to-the-minute illustrations and graphic design serve as the new-fangled foil to the well-known Russian folktale. The text has a familiar, classic cadence; the publisher says that Tolstoy was the first to record the story, in the 19th century. The eponymous turnip, as many readers will already know, grows to colossal size and won't budge from the ground, forcing an elderly farmer couple to seek assistance from a succession of barn animals in order to pull it out. Working in a style reminiscent of Yumi Heo's for its flatness and angularity, Sharkey (Tales of Wisdom and Wonder) produces figures with beady eyes, spindly limbs and small, delineated smiles. They toil against a stark, elemental landscape that is mostly sky. The text itself takes on visual prominence, displayed centrally in large type, sometimes curving, sometimes magnified for effect. The animals (e.g., the two pot-bellied pigs, the three black cats, the four speckled hens) caper acrobatically, while the turnip itself is depicted as monumentally spherical as a planet. Two recent versions of this tale, Jan Peck and Barry Root's The Giant Carrot and Vladimir Vagin's The Enormous Carrot, build momentum right up to the ending, when all the animals share in a boisterous feast; here, the climactic moment comes earlier, when the turnip is finally dislodged. Sharkey's pacing creates a circular balance: the story begins calmly and ends calmly, with plenty of fun in between. Ages 2-5.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2-There is no shortage of versions of this popular Russian folktale, including Jan Peck's recent variant, The Giant Carrot (Dial, 1998). However, this retelling is more complex, so it won't work with very young audiences. The cumulative action centers on an old man and old woman and all of the animals who try to help them uproot a gigantic turnip. In the end, it is a tiny mouse that swings the balance, and all enjoy a hearty turnip supper. Sharkey's illustrations call to mind Brian Karas's work, offering a lot of quirky visual details shown in earthy browns, greens, and yellows on scratchy solid backgrounds. The round old man has spectacles precariously perched on his nose, the old woman sports elfish shoes and striped stockings, the rounded rectangle of a cow chomps on delicate flowers, and the potbellied pigs trod on tiny hooves. The pictures are big enough for a small storytime and kids will find plenty to look at in one-to-one sharing.
Sally Bates Goodroe, Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Series: Barefoot Beginner
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902283120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902283128
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,678,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book, with beautiful illustrations. I teach preschool and use this book whenever I get a chance...it can be used to teach about counting, animals and planting...as well as having a wonderful moral. Every little bit helps!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on August 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are probably a dozen or more versions of this very old Russian folk tale floating around at this time, some are illustrated versions such as we have here, others can be found in anthologies in various formats. This particular version was recorded by Aleksei Tolstoy in the 19th century and is as good as most and better than some. A lot depends upon the taste of the individual as to which version is the best. I personally am rather fond of this one due to the fact it was illustrated by Niamh Sharkey and she is quirky enough to appeal to my quirky tastes.

This is an accumulative tale which starts with an old couple planting heir garden. The garden grows and it is time to harvest. All goes well until the very last turnip; the one at the end of the row, is ready to be pulled. Folks, this is one very big turnip! The old man get up one morning and decides it is time to gather that last turnip and goes to pull it up...no luck...it is just too big. The old woman joins him...still, they are unable to remove the big veggie from the garden. And here the tale actually begins in earnest.

One by one, group by group, all of the farm animals lend a hand. Each page adds another critter or group of critters trying to help the old man and woman. This finally includes the old man and woman, the big brown cow, the two pot-bellied pigs, the three black cats, the four speckled hens, the five white geese, the six yellow canaries and finally, when all else fails, the old woman gets the little hungry mouse who lives in their house to lend a hand.

There are little lessons to be learned in this work and they are delightfully presented not only by a very nice select wording, but by some wonderful illustrations.

Now reader take heed...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ann Marie Grumm on October 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love how the text reads, even more so than the brilliant illustrations. I love to read this text first and then play Heather Forest's musical adaptation of this story (see Heather Forest's Sing Me a Story).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MomofFour on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was unaware this was a classic tale retold by many and thought this copy was so cute I searched out other versions. All others paled in comparison to the both the easy repetative text and quirky illustrations, others were not nearly as well done IMO. DD asked for this one to be re-read so many times it became a companion to our home library.

The story is of an old husband and wife who plant a garden and tend it through the seasons. At harvest time one turnip has grown soooo large they can't pull it out of the ground. They utilize the help of all the farm animals one by one to heave and tug but still it won't come up. The wife thinks of a creative solution that does the trick and everyone enjoys the "fruit" of their labors in the end :).
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By Bev on February 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A truly delightful child's book. I bought this book for my father who is 85 years old and has recently started growing turnips in his garden. He has 2 great granddaughters with whom he can share this book.
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By cay on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my almost 3 year old and it was just wonderful. Lovely message, lovely illustrations. We will definitely keep this book for years to come.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My granddaughters loved this book, and so did I. The illustrations are endearing. I only wonder where the artist found an orange turnip!
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