Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea
by Tony Johnston
illustrated by Stacey Innerst
2011. HMH Books for Young Readers
Levi Strauss (1829-1902) was the founder of the first company to manufacture blue jeans.
This book begins by setting a scene in which gold prospectors need stronger pants. It then describes Levi Strauss "rushing slowly" to the West, missing out on gold, but creating a Great Pants Rush instead.
About the Illustrations
The illustrations are silly and match the tone of the story. They look more like political cartoons than traditional picture book illustrations.
The "Note from the Author" section at the end of the book reveals that everything presented as fact in the text proper is actually based on legend, and that the author has even embellished the details of the legend . The same cutesy and ridiculous tone that permeates the book continues into the author's note so that even this cannot be taken seriously.
This is a tall tale, not a biography. I don't know why my local library - or any library - has it shelved in the biography section. This is misleading and definitely problematic for kids looking for biographies for school projects. The reader can't learn a single fact about Levi Strauss from this book.