Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip

Grandma Lena believes that something worth doing is worth doing right. So she takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows to an enormous size—Baby Pearl thinks it’s a big potato! It is big enough to feed half the town. And it’s so big that Grandma can’t pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, Aunt Netty, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol’ turnip doesn’t budge. Still, this African-American family, including Baby Pearl, knows how to pull together.

  • 32 Pages
  • 10.75" x 8.5"
  • 9780807530238
  • January 2005

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 9780807594117
  • March 2015

Other Places to Buy


  • 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.

    - School Library Journal

  • This “aw-shucks” rendition of the oft-retold “Giant Turnip” tale features a contemporary African-American extended family whose diaper-clad junior member exclaims “Uh-oh! Faw down!” when the huge turnip in Grandma’s garden finally pops out, sending the line of pullers tumbling…Less formal in tone that versions closer to the Russian story generally ascribed to Tolstoy, and unique for its non-rural trappings, this is tellable enough to please young audiences.

    - Kirkus Reviews

  • This story, part familiar folktale, part soul-food celebration, is a vibrant way for children to follow a fairly complex series of events…Big, boisterously colored illustrations fit this book’s big turnip and big heart.

    - Booklist

Awards & Accolades

  • 2007-2008 Show Me Readers Award preliminary list (Missouri)
  • 2005 Aesop Accolade, American Folklore Society


Common Core

RL.K-1.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10 RL.2.1,2,3,5,6,7,10


  • Accelerated Reader Points: 0.50
  • ATOS Level: 3.80