The Gigantic Turnip

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Short story by {{{author}}}
Illustration by Elisabeth Boehm, 1887
CountryRussian Empire
Genre(s)Fairy tale
Published inНародные русские сказки
Media typePrint
Publication date1863

"The Gigantic Turnip" or "The Enormous Turnip" (Russian: Репка, Repka, Ukrainian: Ріпка, Ripka, IPA: [ˈrʲepkə], literally "small turnip"; ATU 2044, ‘Pulling up the turnip') is a cumulative Russian and Ukrainian fairy tale, collected in Arkhangelsk Governorate and published in 1863 by folklore researcher Alexander Afanasyev in his collection Russian Fairy Tales (tale number 89), a collection not strictly Russian, but which included stories from Ukraine and Belarus alongside Russian tales.[1][2][3] The tale is also considered a Ukrainian fairy tale,[3][4] well-known as adapted by Ivan Franko. [5][6]

The story has been rewritten and adapted numerous times in other languages, for example Polish by Julian Tuwim;[7] Bulgarian by Ran Bosilek,[8] and English by Jan Brett.[9]


It is a chain tale, 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 their granddaughter and pets are recruited to help, until they finally pull the turnip up together. The specific ordering and set of people and animals varies. However, in the popular Russian version (based on the 1864 adaptation of Konstantin Ushinsky) their order is quite fixed, with rhythm and rhyme: it is the grandfather (dedka), the grandmother (babka), the granddaughter (vnuchka), the female-dog (zhuchka[note 1]), the female-cat (koshka) and finally only with the help of the female-mouse (myshka) can the giant turnip (repka) be pulled up.[citation needed]

Adaptations and retellings[edit]

Several version for children have been penned, including by Konstantin Ushinsky (1864), Vladimir Dal (1870), and Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1940).[citation needed]

A Hebrew version of the same folktale titled "Eliezer ve-ha-Gezer" ("Eliezer and the Carrot"), in which the identity of the root vegetable is changed to rhyme with the main character's name, has become a well known children's story in Israeli culture.[10] It was published by Levin Kipnis as both a theatrical scene-poem (1930) [11] and children's book (1964).[12]

It is retold as "The Turnip" by Barbara Suwyn in the World Folklore Series' The Magic Egg and Other Tales from Ukraine (1997), edited by Natalie Kononenko.[3]

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.[13]

Children's author, Jan Brett, wrote that the inspiration for her English-language retelling of The Turnip was travel in 2011 through Russia, and chose animals as characters in her version.[9][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Some Slavic versions used the word "suchka" (female dog), but children's versions often replace that with "zhuchka", due to the former potentially having a negative connotation, much like in English. [citation needed]
  1. ^ Афанасьев, А. Н. (1984). "Репка: Сказка N 89". Фундаментальная электронная библиотека: Русская литература и фольклор. Retrieved 2008-11-29.
  2. ^ Suwyn, Barbara (1997). Kononenko, Natalie (ed.). The magic egg and other tales from Ukraine. World folklore series. Englewood, Colo: Libr. Unlimited. pp. xxi. ISBN 978-1-56308-425-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  3. ^ a b c Suwyn, Barbara J. (1997). Kononenko, Natalie O. (ed.). The magic egg and other tales from Ukraine. World folklore series. Englewood, Colo: Libr. Unlimited. pp. 41–43. ISBN 978-1-56308-425-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  4. ^ "The Turnip : a Ukrainian folktale |". Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  5. ^ "Franko, Ivan. Ripka".
  6. ^ Гукало, Юлія (2018-10-13). "РОЛЬ КАЗОК ІВАНА ФРАНКА У ФОРМУВАННІ НАЦІОНАЛЬНО-КУЛЬТУРНИХ ЦІННОСТЕЙ УЧНІВ ПОЧАТКОВОЇ ШКОЛИ". Молодь і ринок. 9 (164). doi:10.24919/2308-4634.2018.144327. ISSN 2617-0825. S2CID 187396169.
  7. ^ "Fundacja im. Juliana Tuwima i Ireny Tuwim".
  8. ^ "". 18 August 2008.
  9. ^ a b "The Turnip". Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  10. ^ Zer-Zion, Shelly (2019). "Theater for Kindergarten Children in the Yishuv: Toward the Formation of an Eretz-Israeli Childhood". Images. 12 (1): 70–84. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  11. ^ Kipnis, Levin (1930). Eliezer ve-ha-Gezer [Eliezer and the carrot]. Gilyonot 2. p. 23.
  12. ^ Kipnis, Levine (1964). Eliezer ve-ha-Gezer. Tel Aviv: S. Zimzon.
  13. ^ Keats, Ezra Jack (2002). Keats's neighborhood : an Ezra Jack Keats treasury. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03586-1.
  14. ^ "The turnip |". Retrieved 2023-06-12.

External links[edit]