Saturday, November 22, 2008

Great big Veggies - Giant Cabbage, Gigantic Turnip, Enormous Potato

The Giant Cabbage:
Moose discovers a very big cabbage in his garden that could win first prize at the Alaska State Fair. But there's a problem -- it's so huge he can't lift it! Various animal friends stop to help, and through teamwork and positive attitude, they succeed. An old Russian folktale about a large turnip inspired The Giant Cabbage, but this contemporary version uses verbal and visual twists that showcase its Alaska setting. Comical repetitions, fun words, and vivid animal characters bring the story to life, and there's even a recipe for a scrumptious cabbage stew to be cooked in a giant pot!

The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck:

Kindergarten-Grade 3?A delightful variation of the folktale "The Turnip." Papa Joe, Mama Bess, Brother Abel, and sweet Little Isabelle all have plans for the carrot seed they plant. Papa wants juice, Mama hopes to plant her lips on a bowl of carrot stew. Abel is all set for carrot relish, but tiny Isabelle desires carrot pudding, and it is her wondrous singing and dancing that cause the carrot to grow to enormous proportions. After the other three struggle long and hard to pull it up, it is her sweet, high-pitched song that finally pops that carrot right out of the ground. That tremendous vegetable provides the whole family with plenty of their favorite treats. A recipe for carrot pudding is included. This tale begs to be read aloud. There is a fine, humorous sense of story and a down-home style in Peck's language. Root's overblown, comic watercolor-and-gouache illustrations are the perfect match for this peppy story. A succulent story to savor.?Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
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The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei Tolstoy:

PreSchool-Grade 2-There is no shortage of versions of this popular Russian folktale, including Jan Peck's recent variant, The Giant Carrot (Dial, 1998). However, this retelling is more complex, so it won't work with very young audiences. The cumulative action centers on an old man and old woman and all of the animals who try to help them uproot a gigantic turnip. In the end, it is a tiny mouse that swings the balance, and all enjoy a hearty turnip supper. Sharkey's illustrations call to mind Brian Karas's work, offering a lot of quirky visual details shown in earthy browns, greens, and yellows on scratchy solid backgrounds. The round old man has spectacles precariously perched on his nose, the old woman sports elfish shoes and striped stockings, the rounded rectangle of a cow chomps on delicate flowers, and the potbellied pigs trod on tiny hooves. The pictures are big enough for a small storytime and kids will find plenty to look at in one-to-one sharing.

The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis :

PreSchool-Grade 1-A sunny retelling of Tolstoy's The Great Big Enormous Turnip in which the characters work together and share the rewards of their labor. A plump, pigeon-toed farmer plants a potato eye that grows into "the biggest potato in the world." Unable to uproot it himself, he calls for his wife's assistance. The stubborn spud remains firmly planted, even after his daughter, dog, and cat are recruited. It is only with the small mouse's one-handed contribution to the group effort that the vegetable is finally ripped from the ground. The family shares its harvest with the jubilant townspeople until the potato, like the story, is gone. With cheerful golden yellow backdrops, the humorous watercolor-and-pencil illustrations reveal the chubby characters grimacing as they struggle to free the fleshy root from the muddy ground and their pleasure in consuming it. An entertaining example of teamwork and cooperation, this simply told tale would work as a read-aloud and, with its short sentences, repetition, and large print, as an easy-reader.

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