The roots of childrens books author Janet Stevens’ award winning “Tops & Bottoms”, it seems, are based in centuries old European folk tales as well as old slave tales from the American South, put together in such a way that children between the ages of 4 and 8 will not only get the message but enjoy it at the same time. The illustrations are entertaining and inviting and follow the text brilliantly.
The basic story in “Tops & Bottoms” is that of Hare and Bear. Bear is quite lazy you see, so the industrious and conniving Hare concocts a plan and strikes a deal. The lazy bear always sleeps through the planting season and misses out on that crucial time. In the deal, Hare and his family would work Bear’s land for him and in return they would receive half of the crops as payment. Hare even tells Bear that he can choose which part he wants – tops or bottoms? It sounds like a wonderful deal that Bear readily agrees to and it is, until he realizes that when he picks “tops”, Hare will plant root crops so that there is nothing left when he removes the bottoms. Thinking he is wise to the Hare’s method, he chooses “bottoms” the next time, only then the Hare chooses to plant corn and leaves nothing but bare stalks.
As beautiful as it is entertaining, Janet Stevens’ Caldecott Award winning “Tops & Bottoms” is one of many lovely picture books that your children will love reading time and time again.