The Giant Turnip is an adaptation of the humorous Russian folk tale, which tells of a grandfather who plants a turnip, which grows and grows, until it is gigantic. He then needs to call everyone from “grandmother” to a cat and mouse to help him pull it out of the ground. In this equally downright silly iteration, it is a teacher and her class who plant the turnip (along with other vegetables) in their class garden. Like in the original story, it takes a cooperative effort to get this mammoth turnip out of the ground. While this folktale teaches a lesson in teamwork, the story also incorporates a great deal of vocabulary. It has all sorts of words from the lexicon of gardening, including vegetable names, and words like “planting, “frost,” and “seeds,” etc. It also manages to incorporate some fun words like “crane,” “bulldozer,” and “helicopter” as the children imagine varied ways to harvest their gigantic turnip. This use of rich language is particularly helpful in a bilingual book, where learning interesting vocabulary is part of the goal. Award-winning illustrator Richard Johnson (who also illustrated The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Don’t Cry, Sly!) uses highly stylized images to illustrate the story. These colorful and engaging drawings depict not only beautiful vegetables (and other aspects of the storyline), but also beautiful and diverse-looking children.
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