The Big Beet by Lynn Ward and illustrated by Adam Carruthers, paperback picture book, published by Omnibus Books in 2013.
When Thelma McGruff feels like a burger for tea, her husband Bertie goes out to the field to pull a fresh beetroot. The oversized beet is hard to pull up, and Bertie suggests having canned beets instead. Thelma prefers fresh and she goes to help Bertie pull up the beet. Even with the two of them, they can not pull up the beet. A couple going by stop to help, and then a few more helpers arrive, until there is a line of people trying to pull up the big beet. Then along comes a tiny girl in a frilly tutu who wants to help too, but everyone thinks she will be too small to make any difference.
This book has rhyming text and a good rhythm when read aloud. It is perfect for sharing, and is loved by my preschooler. She laughs at the story and at the illustrations. She loves that there are lots of animals below ground trying to hold the beet in while all the people above try to pull it out. She also likes the other things she can see underground, like the space ship and some dinosaur bones. Every time one of the people falls over, she laughs, it is a funny read.
According to the back of the book, this is based on a traditional folk tale, but I don’t think I know that one. It has certainly been given an Aussie twist though. Beetroot on burgers is very Australian, along with the barbie and Pavlova, playing wheelie bin cricket and the character’s nicknames too. I liked this about the book.
This story actually reminds me a bit of Pamela Allen’s Who Sank the Boat? in that it is the smallest and most unlikely participant that tips the balance. Working together can accomplish things that an individual cannot, and everyone can contribute. This is a good lesson that children can take away from this story. The Big Beet is most suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children, but I also enjoyed it.