Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea – Perfect Picture Book Friday


Here’s my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

There is more tongue-in-cheek fact-stretching in Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea than you can shake a pair of Levis at, but it’s sooo much fun, you just don’t care. The author gives you the real low-down about the origins of Levi jeans in the back matter. The rest is pure, ah, fabrication. Take a look! 



The voice SCREAMS at you from the first sentence. This is what makes agents and editors turn the page and keep reading:

“GOLD!” somebody yelled. Next thing anybody knew,

the whole world rushed to California and

started digging up the place. The trouble was,

they rushed so fast, they lost their pants.




Well, they didn’t exactly lose them. The pants

just disintegrated. They were that flimsy.

Corduroy, wool tweed, flannel, burlap, velvet, worsted,

serge: they didn’t last long in the gold fields. Right quick

they got worked down to the size of a handkerchief.

Soon, every miner was sluicing for color in his long johns—

or naked as a jaybird. Yessir, all of California was mining

in the vanilla.


Filled with juicy language like “gnashing their clashers” and “rattling and racketing and rolling,” and coupled with illustrations painted on old jeans, this book’s a sure fire winner! If you want to do a craft with the kiddos, I’d suggest painting those ol’ blue jeans. Just make sure they’re the original Levi’s, OK?

Title: Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea

Author: Tony Johnston

Illustrator: Stacy Innerst

Publisher: Harcourt/Houghton

Year: 2011 (Yes, I know it’s not new, but it’s new to me!)

Ages: 3-8 yrs 


34 thoughts on “Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Mrs. P says:

    I agree…being betrayed by all things W…is terrible! I’ve never heard of a Happiness Engineer…I want one of those!

    Levi Strauss…woo hoo! Brings back memories. I used to take the kids to the factory for tours…until the Loma Prieta earthquake shut it down.

    One of the stories in their readers was all about Levi jeans…san the fabrication. Believe it or not, the thrill of the trip was finding rivets on the floor as we passed the sewing factory. Rivets were gold as far as they were concerned!

    It really was a great tour…too bad it is no more.

  2. FictionFan says:

    Ooh, look! Your widgets are back! I must admit the very term Happiness Engineer is enough to make me gnash my clashers and even on occasion clash my gnashers! I’m too scared to change themes – I preview and hover over the button but… nope, can’t do it!

    Worms, Wellington boots, wrigglers, witches, wishlists… Ws are wicked things…

  3. Lady Fancifull says:

    I’m so pleased the Happiness Engineers managed to make you happy again. I’ve given up (almost) looking at new themes to see if there are any I like more, because losing what I have is too scary to contemplate. I have a private’sandbox’ other site, where I occasionally try out different themes, on some of my preexisting posts, but so far there is always SOMETHING which isn’t properly translating over. And I love my widgets. It’s all my complicated indexing which I found a way to work for me, very early on, on the theme I have, which would be an unbearable loss. So my BAD LETTER would be I

  4. Vanessa-Jane Chapman says:

    Thank goodness the widgets are back! Well I never saw them gone, so I must just take your word for it that they were.

    The book sounds wacky and fun, hurrah for wacky and fun! Hey, that sounds like a kids book doesn’t it “Hurrah for Wacky and Fun!” I might write it…

  5. Kate Johnston says:

    This looks like a funny book. The art even made me laugh. Looks like your Happiness Engineer helped retrieve your widgets — glad for that! Nothing worse than a half-naked blog!! 🙂

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, I was feeling so—exposed! 😀

      As far as the artwork, it’s wonderful! Handpainted illustrations on jeans, how perfect! And when the illustrator makes the journey from having naked miners wear barrels and then replace the barrels with jeans, leaving the barrels to become the building blocks for the city of San Francisco, it’s a stroke of genius. Imagine The TransAmerica Pyramid made out of whisky barrels. Genius.

  6. Britt Skrabanek says:

    Happiness Engineers to the rescue, eh? LOL, glad everything turned out okay, hon.

    I’ve been feeling the itch to change up my theme again, but then I remember it’s no quick thing. Drama is inevitable. I’ll wait for a while. 🙂

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