"I am not a snowflake, I'm a dog!"
I first came across the work of Janet Stevens in 1995 when I was looking for children's books on plants to integrate into an elementary science lesson. It was then that I discovered Tops and Bottoms, the story of a lazy bear and enterprising hare. Bear and Hare enter into a deal where Hare and his family will work Bear's land and then split the crops in half. Bear 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.
"So, what will it be, Bear" asked Hare. "The top half or the bottom half? It's up to you--tops or bottoms."Bear chooses the top half, so Hare plants root crops, leaving Hare with all the best parts and Bear with a useless harvest. When Bear realizes he has been tricked, he tells Hare to plant the field again, and insists on getting the bottoms. This time Hare plants leafy crops, leaving Bear with another useless harvest. The third time around, Bear requests tops and bottoms, so Hare plants . . . can you guess?
I had great success using this book in the classroom for teaching plant parts. A bit later it occurred to me that this also a terrific choice for teaching economics, as the story is all about opportunity cost, or that valuable alternative you give up when you make a decision.
Tops and Bottoms has gorgeous double-page spreads in a format that opens from top to bottom instead of left to right. This cleverly designed and beautifully illustrated book was awarded a Caldecott Honor medal in 1996.
Since Tops and Bottoms, Janet Stevens has illustrated many lovely books, including some she has collaborated on with her sister and some she has written herself. You may recognize a few of these titles:
Robert's Snow. For this year's auction, Janet created a snowflake entitled "I am not a snowflake, I'm a dog!"
I love the wrinkled face full of personality and can just imagine getting thumped by that tail as it swings. If you are interested in bidding on this heartwarming snowflake (oops, I mean dog!), be sure to follow the link for Auction 2. Don't forget that 100 percent of the proceeds from this online auction will benefit sarcoma research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. While you are there, be sure to view all the snowflakes up for auction. Each and every one is a unique and amazing work of art.
Finally, be sure to check out the other snowflake illustrators being featured today.
- Selina Alko at Brooklyn Arden
- Scott Bakal at Wild Rose Reader
- Alexandra Boiger at Paradise Found
- Paige Keiser at Your Neighborhood Librarian