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Tops & Bottoms (Anglais)
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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.
A word of caution: If you're using this book with the intention of utilizing it to teach youngsters about farming cycles, cease and desist. In the course of this tale, Hare harvests his crops three times over the summer months. His youngsters also weed the garden of unusually hardy dandelions each and every time Bear instructs Hare to plant again. Still, as complaints go this one's fairly petty. The story is funny and well written. Hare has a wonderful way of roping Bear into the deal, coming off with phrases like, "Yes, sir, Bear, we're in this together. I'll work and you sleep". Better still are the illustrations. From Bear's permanently loose tie and oversized shoes to Hare's gaudy carrot covered Hawaiian shirt, the characters here are alive and kicking. Stevens also has a great talent drawing vegetables. I've rarely seen the stems of radishes as wonderfully rendered as they are in this book. And best of all, Hare is aided and abetted by his hard working kin. Baby rabbits fill the pages, usually hiding over, under, above, and through every vegetable in the book. My favorite moment was the scene in which Hare presents the tops AND bottoms of the corn. There, in the lower left hand corner stands Mrs. Hare, studiously removing the roots of the plant to place in the "bottoms" pile.
In effect, Janet Stevens has taken the essence of the Brer Rabbit tales and switched the message about 180 degrees. And you know what? It doesn't matter. Because Hare still gets the best of Bear and the story is a well-told romp. Add in the gorgeous pictures and the amazing format and you've got yourself a bonafide hit. As great read aloud books go, this is definitely one of the best. A highly recommended story time favorite.
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.
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!