Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great Big Enormous Turnip by Alexei Tolstoy

The Great Big Enormous Turnip is a picture book written by Alexei Tolstoy.  It is a simple book about an old man growing a turnip.  It was time to pull it up but he wasn't strong enough.  He pulled and pulled but needed to get help.  He ended up getting his wife, granddaughter, the dog, the cat, and finally the mouse to assist.  The turnip finally came up and they put it on the table.  That's it!  But....., the illustrations were so good.  As the reader, you could have looked at the pictures and figured out the meaning even without the text.

The author, Alexei Tolstoy, was a Russian author.  He was also a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.  His books, Peter I (1940), Road to Calvary (1943), and the play Ivan Grozny (1946) were awarded Stalin Prizes.

The illustrator, Helen Oxenbury, was highlighted on the cover of this book.  Her name was in bold and was placed directly under the title of the book, where the author was listed much smaller.  I wondered about this, in fact, I thought that there wasn't an author at first until I looked more closely.  She is the illustrator of many classic picture books including We're Going on a Bear Hunt and The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.  Today, Helen Oxenbury is among the most popular and critically acclaimed illustrators of her time.  The colored pencil and pen & ink illustrations along with the great (bright) colors on full bleed pages make the story come alive.

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