"TOPS AND BOTTOMS" FOLKTALE

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"TOPS AND BOTTOMS" folktale

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Books with the "Tops and Bottoms" folktale
Online links to story/information - "Tops and Bottoms"
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info - "Tops and Bottoms"
~~Advice/References - Storytellers, Teachers, Librarians


 

 

BOOKS WITH THE "TOPS AND BOTTOMS" FOLKTALE

Book titles are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to find out more about the books and how to buy them.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Tops & Bottoms (Caldecott Honor Book) by Janet Stevens. (1995 - Ages 4-8)
Hare solves his family’s problems by tricking rich and lazy Bear in this funny, energetic version of an old slave story. With roots in American slave tales, this book celebrates the trickster tradition of using one’s wits to overcome hardship. “As usual, Stevens’ animal characters, bold and colorful, are delightful. . . . It’s all wonderful fun, and the book opens, fittingly, from top to bottom instead of from side to side." - Booklist

Tops And Bottoms by Lesley Conger with Imero Gobbato (illus). (1970 - Ages 4-8)
Reader: The farmer in the story kept tricking the horrible goblin. The goblin wanted half of the crop so if he asked for tops the farmer planted something that grew under the ground and if he asked for bottoms the farmer planted something that the top half was harvested. Eventually the goblin got so mad he disappeared and never came back.

 

 

 

ONLINE LINKS TO "TOPS AND BOTTOMS" FOLKTALE

Online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
To retell any of these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.

http://teachers.net/lessons/posts/3818.html
Reading/Writing Lesson Plan from TeachersNet.

http://www.preschooleducation.com/br132.shtml
Book review of Stevens book by Yvonne Gaudet from Preschool Education.

http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=26575
A Lift-the-Flap Book About Vegetables from Scholastic.

http://eduscapes.com/library/t/tops_bottoms.htm
Book and Topic connections from Eduscapes Library.

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/kids/lessonplans/chap111.shtm
"Let's Read: Tops and Bottoms" by Janet Stevens from Texas Department of State Health Services.

http://www.harcourtbooks.com/bookcatalogs/bookpages/9780152928513.asp
Synnopsis, Awards and History of the book from Harcourt.

http://www.cesa8.k12.wi.us/teares/math/it/webquests/Gardening/index.htm
Tops and Bottoms—A ardening Quest with a lesson plan.

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SOS: SEARCHING OUT STORIES/INFORMATION ABOUT THE "TOPS AND BOTTOMS" FOLKTALE
Advice, Discussion and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpt from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Posts to Storytell are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) There are many incarnations (Polish, for example). The book by Janet Stevens says "with roots in European folklore & the slave stories of the American South..."

2) "Bobtail Beats the Devil" in Richard Chase's Grandfather Tales. Some stories are meant to be told by men. This story is a good example of a man's story.

3) This is also a British folktale - told about the devil or similar evil character. And without the "happy" ending. See Folk-Tales of the British Isles by Kevin Crossley-Holland.

4) Diane Ferlatte tells a story about a former slave who was loaned land once freed, but in return had to share the crop with the owner of the land. When the owner announced that he wanted whatever was grown on top, the croop was potatoes; the next year he said whatever was grown on the bottom, so the man planted wheat. It concluded with them sharing the crops equally.

5) There's a story of a battle of wits between Hodja Nasruddin & Iblis (Islamic name for Satan) that also incorporated the classic motif: "If you are so powerful, can you make yourself so small that you can fit into [something very small]?" So, of course, the devil does so and is immediately trapped and loses the battle of wits.

6) This story can also be found in Russia and Eastern Europe. You can find at least one version in Afanas'ev's Russian Fairy Tales. Look for the story "The Peasant, the Bear, and the Fox."

7) "Tops and Bottoms" is found as a Brer Rabbit (The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus) story.

8) The South American version of "Tops and Bottoms" I told was "The Lazy Fox" - I found it in Latin American Tales: From the Pampas to the Pyramids of Mexico, collected by Genevieve Barlow.

In that version it was an armadillo outwitting a lazy fox. I have since "made it mine" by having it be a possum outwitting the fox. Had to Appalachianize it, ya know???
Diane H. 8/16/09

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Created 2003; last update 8/16/09

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