Tops and Bottoms | A Best Picture Book Review

by tandemonimom

Tops and Bottoms is a hilarious trickster tale adapted from slave stories from the American south.

Tops and Bottoms

If you and your kids enjoy a fun trickster tale that even has a moral at the end, then Tops and Bottoms is for you. Hare, the traditional trickster, outwits lazy old Bear every time.

Bear has inherited plenty of land and money but is lazy. Hare has no land but lots of hungry little bunnies to feed and nothing but his wits to feed them with. Hare considers his dilemma, then approaches Bear with a business proposition: "I'll do the hard work of planting and harvesting, and we can split the profit right down the middle." When Bear yawns and agrees, Hare asks him which he wants as his half: the top half, or the bottom half?

A Rollicking Trickster Tale!

Tops & Bottoms (Caldecott Honor Book)
Harcourt Children's Books
$11.29  $14.5

When Bear chooses the top half, Hare and his industrious family decide to plant carrots, radishes, and beets. Hare keeps the juicy vegetables from the bottom half, and Bear gets only the leafy greens from the top half. Indignant at being tricked, Bear demands that Hare replant the field and this time give him the bottom half. Hare cheerfully complies, this time planting lettuce, broccoli, and celery with his family's help, leaving only the bottom roots for Bear's half.

This time Bear is really upset, and demands a harvest of tops AND bottoms for himself. Hare again complies, this time planting corn and giving Bear the roots and leafy tops of the corn stalks, keeping the ears of corn (which grow, after all, in the middle) for himself.

Bear finally learns his lesson and begins to plant his own land, while Hare and Mrs. Hare open a roadside vegetable stand, make a killing selling their harvest from Bear's land, and finally are able to buy their own land for their own planting next year.

Janet Stevens

Children's Book Illustrator and Author

In addition to several ALA Notable mentions and New York Times bestsellers, Janet Stevens has received numerous awards for her books, including the Caldecott Honor Award, the Texas Bluebonnet Award, the Wanda Gagg Best Read-Aloud Book Award, and multiple state children's books awards, which are voted on by the children of each state.

A Caldecott Honor Book

Caldecott Honor AwardThe Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to a children's picture book considered most worthy by the ALSC (Association for Library Science to Children), a division of the American Library Association. Each year one picture book wins the Caldecott Medal award, and two to four Caldecott Honor books are named as well. The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of Randolph Caldecott, a 19th-century illustrator from Great Britain.

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Updated: 08/02/2011, tandemonimom
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Jimmie on 07/07/2011

Sneaky rabbit! (He reminds me of Brer Rabbit.)

ohcaroline on 07/07/2011

This one would be a delight for children.

Dianne on 07/06/2011

Tops and Bottoms sounds like a fun book with a lesson. Love it!

petunia on 07/06/2011

Tops and Bottoms sounds like pure delight!

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