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  • Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a of Pants
  • Elizabeth Bush
Johnston, Tony. Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a of Pants; illus. by Stacy Innerst. Harcourt, 2011. 32p. ISBN 978-0-15-206145-6 $16.99 R 6–9 yrs.

From a few wispy threads of fact, Johnston weaves an original tall tale of how New York peddler Levi Strauss became outfitter extraordinaire for the 49ers (gold fields, that is, not Candlestick Park). The miners’ work pants were just not up to the job, and sooner rather than later they were reduced to tatters, or worse. Thus began the Great Barrel Rush, with miners grabbing up every hoop and stave they could find to keep the elements at bay. Into this sad state of affairs came Strauss, whose tent fabric was just the ticket for indestructible work clothes. Miners promptly abandoned their barrels and clamored for jeans faster than Strauss could stitch ’em, thus setting off the Great Pants Rush. And the barrels? Strauss just stacked ’em up to build San Francisco. Johnston antes up the readaloudability with traditional tall-tale banter and and a bold-faced “Dang!” every time Strauss gets a brainstorm. Innerst extends the fun by painting the sartorially challenged miners on, what else, blue jeans, craftily leaving the blue untouched for jeans, tents, chalkboards, ocean, and bay, and letting flat-felled seams do double duty as the floor of a covered wagon or the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge. A final note sets the real story straight, at least as straight as the Strauss legend can be set.



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