The Enormous Turnip

Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):

            Vagin, Vladimir. The Enormous Carrot. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 1998.

Ethnic Origin:


Running Time:

            About 7 minutes

Power Center(s):

            Tension rises and frustration builds each time when the turnip doesn’t come out of the ground.

            Relief when turnip finally comes out.


            A farmer, his wife, a dog, a cat, a goat, a sheep, a duck, a hen, and a little teeny mouse.


The farmer gets ready for the turnip harvest.


One especially stubborn turnip refuses to come out of the ground, and the farmer calls for help.

The chain of helpers grows longer and longer.

The turnip comes up.


A turnip farmer readies himself for his annual turnip harvest. As he begins to pull turnips, he finds an especially difficult one. He calls his wife for help, who calls the dog, who calls the cat, who calls the goat, who calls the sheep, who calls the duck, who calls the hen, and when the hen calls a mouse to help, they finally succeed in uprooting the turnip. It is big. Very big. The farmer’s wife cooks the turnip up, and they eat it all up.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor":

            "Once there was, and once there wasn’t"

"… but that turnip just wouldn’t come up!"


building chain- "the cat grabbed hold of the dog’s tail, the dog grabbed hold of the woman’s apron," etc.

animal sounds (if they come out right)

Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):

The "Enormous Turnip" story is great for little ones. It’s a short, fun story, so the limited attention span of 3-5 year olds (according to Charlotte Huck) hopefully won’t be a problem. The story is very repetitive, as Piaget suggests is good for small children. Children also like that it is a small mouse who finally uproots the turnip.

Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?

Version I:

Tolstoy, Aleksey Nikolayevich. The Great Big Enormous Turnip. New York, NY: F. Watts, 1968.

Domanska, Janina. The Turnip. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1969.

Variant I:

Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. "The Turnip." Barnes & Noble Books: New York, NY, 1993. 574-576.

De la Mare, Walter. The Turnip. Boston, MA: David R. Godine Publishers, 1992.

Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

I found a number of different stories dealing with giant vegetables- but the carrot story I picked because of the characters. It starts with rabbit farmers and adds animals as the helpers- most of the other stories I found had family members as the characters. I have more fun with the animals, so my story uses them. The variants of the turnip story seem to be more for older audiences- they’re not focusing so on the comic aspects of the story. Instead they are more moral cautionary tales about humility and envy, which would probably be mystifying to little preschool kids. De la Mare’s variant is wonderfully told, but it just wasn’t the one I wanted. Tolstoy’s version was also good, and definitely had a Russian flavor, but he used people instead of animals, and the language wasn’t as pretty as the carrot story, which has great rhymes and vocabulary. The Grimm story is awfully plain. I did borrow a bit from everything to introduce my story though, so hopefully weaving the stories together will fashion something… special.