cover image Turnip


Walter de La Mare. David R. Godine Publisher, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87923-934-3

The lowly turnip proves far more valuable than jewels in this Grimm fairy tale, elegantly refashioned by poet de la Mare in 1927. As repayment for providing a modest meal to a traveler, a poor, kindly farmer discovers in his garden a giant turnip--``of a size and magnitude the likes of which had never been seen in the world before, not even in the island where people are all giants.'' He presents the remarkable vegetable to the king, who rewards the farmer's loyalty with vast riches. News of the farmer's good fortune reaches his wealthy, selfish half-brother, who determines to best his sibling; the brother sells his worldly goods to buy the king a magnificent ruby. Fully aware of the brother's motives, the king sees that he gets his just deserts. With bold, expressive paintings, Hawkes ( Lady Bugatti ) magnificently captures the parody and irony of de la Mare's unusually lyrical prose. Light-drenched artwork with themed borders cleverly accentuates the tale's good and evil elements--the brothers' stylized faces demonstrate, in equal exaggeration, wide-eyed innocence and furrowed-brow avarice. Though the story may prove overlong for the indicated audience, this is clearly a blue-ribbon vegetable. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)