R is for Russia so that’s the next stop on the A to Z April Blog Challenge where we are Reading the World with kid’s books.
In college I majored in geography with a minor in comparative literature because I wanted to learn about the world and the people who inhabit different geographical locations. The stories that people tell fascinate me as they give insight to different cultures. Cumulative stories are among my favorite types of tales and one that seems to reflect a time and a place is the old Russian folktale,
originally written down by Aleksei Tolstoy
picture book ages 3-7
This tale is familiar to all early elementary teachers and students. A farmer plants a turnip which grows so big that he can’t pull it out by himself. He calls to his wife to help and but it still won’t come out. The granddaughter, dog, and cat join in but it is only when the tiny mouse lends a hand does the turnip finally come out. This is a classic tale of cooperation where everyone works together to accomplish a task and even the littlest one’s assistance matters.
There are many versions of this tale which was first published in 1865. The most familiar versions are attributed to Aleksei Tolstoy (a relative of Leo). My favorite is the version illustrated by Pierr Morgan who uses the Russian character names which are very fun to say:
Dedoushka (grandfather) Baboushka (grandmother) Mashenka (the granddaughter) Geouchka (the dog) and Keska (the cat)
The Turnip seems to be popular with many picture book writers and illustrators and is a perennial favorite for kindergartners who are learning to read. Here are just a few of the many versions available:
I found this interesting version set in an urban school garden. Miss Honeywell’s class of diverse students team up to pull that stubborn turnip out. It is available as a bilingual book in 21 different languages.
Wouldn’t it be fun to retell The Turnip with these Russian Matryoshka Nesting Dolls?
Why do you think The Turnip is such a popular story?
Have you ever even eaten a turnip?