By: Dianne de Las Casas
Publisher: Pelican Publishing
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
Ma Farmer had many things to tend to in her garden, but there was one thing missing. She leaned on her hoe and surveyed her crop. She had a little bit of everything, but there was not a single sweet potato in the garden. If you have a “hankering for some sweet potato pie,” like Ma did, that is a problem. Normally she preferred to use things fresh from her garden, but in this case she’d just have to go to the Fresh Market to see what she could find. There were beautiful melons, pears, bananas, strawberries, and sweet potatoes. Ma put one in her basket and hurried on home. She carefully started her own sweet potato plant in water and when it was ready she planted the potato in her garden.
She still had that hankering for the sweet potato pie and finally, after paying some “extra-special attention to the sweet potato” (and a lot of love), it was ready to be harvested. Ma Farmer dug around the leaves and tendrils of the plant and leaned down to give it a tug. “Heave ho! Heave ho! I’ll pull this sweet potato, / just a little more to go.” It looked like she was going to need a bit of help. Ma and Pa Farmer gave it a tug to no avail. It looked like they’d need to enlist the help of Bessie Cow. Now that was some stubborn sweet potato. Bessie Cow went to get Ralphie Dog, who then had to go fetch Kitty Cat. If Ma Farmer was going to serve up some of that special sweet potato pie, they would have to do some thinking. How were they ever going to get that stubborn sweet potato out of the ground?
This is a totally delightful, sweet tale of Ma Farmer and her problematic potato. This tale is an adaptation of the Russian fairy tale, “The Giant Turnip,” or as it is sometimes called, “The Enormous Turnip.” Ma Farmer is a modern day woman who prefers to eat things she grows herself and has the know-how to raise her own sweet potato crop. She wasn’t quite expecting the gigantic result her tender loving care produced, but by the look of that sweet potato, she most likely could satisfy everyone’s hankering for some sweet potato pie. Just in case you have a hankering, she gave the author permission to print her recipe in the back of the book. There are also several “Fun Facts” to take a look at, including suggestions on how you can grow your own sweet potato plants.
Quill says: This adaptation of an old Russian folktale would be a perfect book to read and discuss in the homeschool or classroom setting!