From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2?A note states that this trickster tale has "roots in European folktales and slave stories of the American South." Lazy Bear sleeps through every planting season, so conniving Hare makes a deal. He and his family will work Bear's land and split the crops in half. He'll even let Bear choose which half he wants?"tops or bottoms." Bear chooses tops so Hare plants root crops, leaving Bear with a useless harvest. A furious Bear insists next time he'll take bottoms so Hare plants corn, leaving empty stalks. The entertaining story is illustrated with Stevens's now familiar artwork?lively, colorful line-and-wash spreads filled with sprightly characters and humorous details. The contrast between the slumbering bear and the frantically energetic hare family is especially amusing. Unfortunately, some illustrations are marred by the placement of the boxed text. The book opens vertically rather than horizontally; while this design element is a clever complement to the growing theme, it is not completely successful. At times, the visual flow is interrupted. The narration is also somewhat awkward. Despite the obvious flaws, this title is sure to be popular with Stevens's fans and youngsters who crave "funny books."?Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 4^-7. Large, dynamic double-page-spread paintings are only part of the charm of this very funny picture book. Easily recognizable as a trickster tale (Stevens' source note roots the story in European folktales and slave stories of the American South), this features appealing, contemporary cousins of Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear. Here, Bear and Hare are involved in a gardening partnership, with industrious, clever Hare reaping all the vegetable profits. As usual, Stevens' animal characters, bold and colorful, are delightful. Hare, decked out in a lively gardening shirt and surrounded by mischievous offspring, is the image of determination. It's Bear, however, who wins the personality prize: he snoozes away each planting season squashed in his favorite chair, changing positions with each flip of the page. It's all wonderful fun, and the book opens, fittingly, from top to bottom instead of from side to side, making it perfect for story-time sharing. Stephanie Zvirin