Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

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Publishing: Harcourt Brace & Company; San Diego, CA; 1995

Awards: 1996 Caldecott Honor

Description: Hare and Bear are neighbors. Bear has a lot of money and land, but is too lazy to grow anything. Hare, on the other hand, has no land or money, but is willing to work hard. He tells the sleeping Bear that he will plant the crops and they will split them 50/50, with Hare getting the bottoms and Bear getting the tops. Only all of the crops he plants have their edible portion underground. The next season Hare tricks Bear by making the opposite deal, and then a third time…until Bear finally wakes up and takes his land back. By that time, though, Hare has saved enough crops to sell and buy his land back.

Programming: This would be a good opportunity to grow something in the classroom-one or more of the vegetables mentioned. Or, for a simpler activity for younger students, you might go through the vegetables and make lists of those for which the bottoms are harvested and those for which the tops are harvested. Scholastic recommends having the students make a salad with all of the ingredients listed in the book. (http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/tops-bottoms-lesson-plan)

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The Great Fuzzy Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

The Great Fuzzy Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

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Publishing: Harcourt, New York, 2005

Description: When a dog drops a tennis ball down into a prairie dog burro the dogs have a field day with the bright yellow fuzz until it runs out and they are at each other’s throats. When Big Bark steals all of the fuzz and is captured by an eagle, he must wriggle free of it and surrender the fuzz. The prairie dogs learn that they need Big Bark and that family is more important than fuzz. The illustrations are visually pleasing and the text contains rhymes and buzzwords that are great fun to read aloud.

Programming: There are two very important lessons in this book: family comes before material goods, and that everyone has a job they can do. This might be a good book for a class that keeps fighting over supplies or tasks.