The Gigantic Turnip

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The Giant Turnip's performance

"The Gigantic Turnip" or "The Enormous Turnip" (Russian: Репка) is a Russian folktale.

The tale was collected by Aleksandr Afanas'ev in his 1850s Narodnye Russkie skazki (tale number 89).[1] The story has been rewritten and adapted numerous times, and translated into other languages (e.g. into Polish by Julian Tuwim;[2] into Bulgarian by Ran Bosilek[3]) .


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 (vnuchka), the female-dog (zhuchka[4]), 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 (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).

Derivative works[edit]

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

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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Афанасьев, А. Н. (1984). "Репка: Сказка N 89". Фундаментальная электронная библиотека: Русская литература и фольклор. Retrieved 2008-11-29.
  2. ^ "Fundacja im. Juliana Tuwima i Ireny Tuwim".
  3. ^ "".
  4. ^ The original version had the word "suchka" (bitch), but kid versions replace that with "zhuchka", due to the original word having a negative meaning much like in English.
  5. ^ Keats, Ezra Jack (2002). Keats's neighborhood : an Ezra Jack Keats treasury. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03586-1.

External links[edit]