The Gigantic Turnip

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The Giant Turnip's performance

"The Gigantic Turnip" or "The Enormous Turnip" (Russian: Репка) is a children's fairy tale of Russian[1] or Slavic origin, written by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy.[2][3][4] It was included in the collection Russian Folk Tales, edited and published by Aleksandr Afanas'ev.[5]

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 the original Russian version the order is quite fixed, it is the grandfather (dedka), the grandmother (babka), the granddaughter (vnuchca), the female-dog (zhuchka), the female-cat (koshka) and finally the female-mouse (myshka). The humour in 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. The moral of this story is that of collaboration, and that if we all work together, we can do anything.

The story 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 fairy tale has had multiple treatments in English. 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.[6]


  1. ^ The Gigantic Turnip. 
  2. ^ Daynes, Katie; Overwater, Georgien (2013-09-01). The Enormous Turnip: Usborne First Reading: Level Three. Usborne Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781409568766. 
  3. ^ "inauthor:%22Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi%22 – Google Search". Retrieved 2016-05-07. 
  4. ^ The Gigantic Turnip: A. Tolstoy's Russian Folktale. ISBN 9781741260267. 
  5. ^ Афанасьев, А. Н. (1984). "Репка: Сказка N 89". Фундаментальная электронная библиотека: Русская литература и фольклор. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  6. ^ Keats, Ezra Jack (2002). Keats's neighborhood : an Ezra Jack Keats treasury. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03586-1. 

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