*Tops and Bottoms written and illustrated by Janet Stevens

*Tops and Bottoms written and illustrated by Janet Stevens. Harcourt Brace, 1995. 32 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 4-8

tabjsHe who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.  (Proverbs 10:4-5)

Bear has plenty of land, but he’s lazy and doesn’t want to farm it. Rabbit has a hungry family, and he’s willing to work. So they drive a bargain: Rabbit will do all the work on Bear’s farm while Bear sleeps, and at the end of the season they will evenly split the crops. They agree that Bear will have the tops and Rabbit the bottoms of the harvest. The first year, Rabbit plants root vegetables and gives Bear the less desirable leaves while he takes the valuable produce. How many times can he outsmart Bear before Bear learns a lesson?

See also our list of trickster tales here.

Cautions: none

Overall Rating: 5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview Rating: 5
  • Artistic Rating: 5

Categories: Starred Review, Fairy and Folk Tales, Picture Books, Award Winners, Character Values
Cover image from Goodreads.
*indicates starred review


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Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader who loves nothing more than helping readers (and non-readers) find books which are not only a good fit for them, but also combine Truth and Story. She has never regretted reading all those fairy tales in childhood, even though she didn’t realize at the time how much they matter to real life. She is the founder of Literaritea Press and plans to publish her first picture book soon. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia where she enjoys knitting, playing with words, and mountain views.

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