Cover image for
Grandma Lena's big ol' turnip
Hester, Denia.
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 x 28 cm
Grandma Lena grows a turnip so big that it takes her entire family pull it up and half of the town to eat it. Includes a note about cooking "soul food."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.8 0.5 101025.
Added Author:
Pub Date:
Albert Whitman & Co., 2005.


Home Location
Material Type
Shelf Number
Central - Houston Public Library Kid/Juvenile Closed stacks picture book Closed stacks kids book E HESTE

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Grandma Lena takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows so big that Grandma can't pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol' turnip doesn't budge.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 2. This story, part familiar folktale, part soul-food celebration, is a vibrant way for children to learn how to follow a fairly complex series of events. Grandma Lena has a backyard garden. In winter, she pores over seed catalogs, looking for turnips. In spring, children follow along as she plants and tends the seeds. Then, one day in June, the turnips come up, with one towering over the rest. So big is the turnip that Grandma Lena must enlist the members of her family, ending with the dog and the toddler, to yank it out, and when they do, it fills most of a double-page spread. Then come the turnip dishes, cooked soul-food style. Big, boisterously colored illustrations fit this book's big turnip and big heart. A note talks about African American cookery and the tale's Russian origins. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2005 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Adapted from Aleksey Tolstoy's "The Turnip," this tale about teamwork and sharing in an extended African-American family is bubbling with warmth and Southern-style cooking. When Grandma Lena is ready to pick her gargantuan vegetable, it will not budge. One by one, she enlists the help of her relatives, but it is only when Baby Pearl pitches in that the turnip is harvested, and then lovingly made into a soul-food feast for the neighborhood. Urbanovic's humorous watercolors are highlighted with charcoal detailing. The characters are delightful and each one has a great deal of individual expression and personality. Background details give a strong sense of setting. The illustrations of the growing vegetable take on outlandish proportions that readers will find funny and satisfying. The artist's use of perspective further enhances this rollicking story. Well written, charmingly illustrated, and with a new ethnic twist, this book is a first choice for libraries and an essential addition to collections of folktale variations. A great read-aloud, it also makes a natural introduction to units on seeds and growing, or gardening. Also, don't overlook the opportunities to discuss themes of cooperation, generosity, and community.-Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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