The Giant Turnip

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The Giant Turnip's performance
For the Grimms' fairy tale about a giant turnip see The Turnip (fairy tale)

"The Giant Turnip" or "The Enormous Turnip" (Russian: Репка) is a children's fairy tale of Russian or Slavic origin. It was first published in 1863 in the collection Russian Folk Tales, edited and published by Aleksandr Afanas'ev. [1]

It is a progressive story, in which a grandfather plants a turnip, which grows so large that he cannot pull it up himself. He asks the grandmother for help, and they together still cannot pull it up. Successively more people are recruited to help, until they finally pull the turnip up together. The specific ordering and set of people and sometimes animals varies. However in original Russian version the order is quite fixed, it is the grandfather (dedka), the grandmother (babka), the granddaughter (vnuchka), the female-dog (zhuchka), the female-cat (koshka) and finally the female-mouse (myshka). The humour or moral of the story is that only with the help of the weakest and smallest creature (the mouse) can the giant turnip or radish (repka) be pulled up. This is very popular in Russia as the names of the participants rhyme: repka (turnip) - dedka (grandfather) - babka (grandmother); vnuchka (granddaughter) - zhuchka (she-dog); koshka (she-cat) - myshka (she-mouse) The moral of this story is that of collaboration, and that if we all work together, we can do anything.

In English, the fairy tale has had multiple treatments. One of the unfinished projects of award-winning illustrator Ezra Jack Keats was a version of "The Giant Turnip"; artwork for the book was published in the 2002 collection Keats's Neighborhood: An Ezra Jack Keats Treasury.[2]


  1. ^ Афанасьев, А. Н. (1984). "Репка: Сказка N 89.". Фундаментальная электронная библиотека: Русская литература и фольклор. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  2. ^ Keats, Ezra Jack (2002). Keats's neighborhood : an Ezra Jack Keats treasury. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03586-1.