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Tops & Bottoms (Caldecott Honor Book) Hardcover – March 29, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 580L (What's this?)
  • Series: Caldecott Honor Book
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace; 1st edition (March 29, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152928510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152928513
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Tops & Bottoms is well written, and the illustrations are an adventure in themselves. There are some excellent lessons in the story, but the book will not hold the attention of my active 4 and 6 year-old boys. I'll have to wait for them to grow up a little before they can appreciate Tops & Bottoms.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first picked up the charming, "Tops and Bottoms" picture book by Janet Stevens, I was initially certain that this was a kind of Brer Rabbit tale. It had all the markings of it. Animals in clothing tricking one another out of food of one sort or another. The hero was a hare and the villain a bear. But on reading this book I was in for a shock. A staple of the Brer Rabbit tales is the idea that sometimes luck and laziness go hand in hand. Brer Rabbit is forever tricking the other animals into doing his work for him rather than the other way around. But in "Tops and Bottoms" we have a very familiar message to contend with. Hard work pays off.

The book is drawn in a rather original format. Rather than holding the book with the spine horizontal, instead this tale can only be read with the spine completely vertical. Pictures are long here, rather than wide, and the result is an eclectic new way of telling a tale. It's enormously effective. In this story, a lazy bear owns most of the land. One day, Hare decides its time to buy some of his own land back. He strikes up a deal with the prematurely hibernating neighbor and the two become business partners. If Hare does all the work, Bear can chose the part of the crop he prefers. Either the tops or the bottoms. It soon becomes clear that Bear is no match for the sly hare. After all, when Bear chooses the tops, Hare plants carrots. When Bear understands his mistake he chooses bottoms and Hare plants lettuce and celery. And when Bear demands both the tops AND the bottoms, Hare plants corn and gets the middle. In the end, Bear learns the benefits of hard work (and staying on top of things) and Hare has enough money from the crops to own his own land again.
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By A Customer on November 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The characters are amazing... and amazingly easy to impersonate.
My children love when I give each of the main characters (bear and rabbit) a different voice. The story is really about entrepreneurship, but the little ones only need to know the difference between a root vegetable and a leaf vegetable. Anyway, my kids cannot look at a corn field now without saying "Tops or Bottoms"? And that to me is the best compliment given to a book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a delightful book. I just finished sharing the book with my two-year old. She loved looking at the funny positions of the bear. She also liked finding the bunnies on the pages. I also teach 3rd grade. I found that this book will be quite helpful in our science discussion about plant parts (and the parts of the plant that are consumed).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It seems Mr. Rabbit is in a bit of a fix. After losing that race to Turtle, he's in a bit of a financial jam. So, he goes to Bear and makes a deal.
The Rabbit family will plant and harvest the crops on Bear's land. Rabbit will split the crops with Bear 50/50. All Bear has to do is decide which half - tops or bottoms - he wants.
Unfortunately, whether the crop is potatoes, lettuce, corn, or radishes, Bear keeps picking the "wrong half".
This is a hillarious story that kids of all ages will appreciate. For visual interest, the book is designed to flip from top to bottom (as opposed from left to right).
Janet Stevens' artwork alone is worth the cost of the book!
Enjoy!
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By A Customer on March 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I used Tops and Bottoms to teach economics to my twenty kindergartners. The story is packed with economic concepts such as scarcity, producers, consumers, productive resources - land, labor, capital, goods, products, entrepreneurs,etc. We had a wonderful time applying economics to this literature, and transferring it to our experiences. Parents, this is a great book to use at home to teach life skills, such as responsibility!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Rabbit, sore from his loss in that race with Mr. Turtle, is a bit down on his luck. So, he strikes a bargain with Mr. Bear.
The rabbit family will plant and harvest crops on Mr. Bear's land and split the proceeds 50/50.
"Tops or bottoms," Mr. Rabbit asks.
Whether the crop is corn, potatoes, or lettuce - Mr. Bear just doesn't seem to "pick" the right half.
This is a great story - for everyone!!
Janet Stevens' illustrations tell a story all their own. Simply wonderful!
The book opens top to bottom (instead of left to right) to re-inforce the idea of "tops and bottoms".
I definitely reccomend this book - it's a true winner!!
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By A Customer on November 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
My granddaughter and I really enjoyed the book. At 5, it was an excellent teaching regarding how different vegetables grow AND it also showed that hard work pays off for the rabbit.
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