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The Legend of Slappy Hooper

An American Tall Tale

Book illustration

Retold by Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Toni Goffe

You’d better believe Slappy Hooper was the world’s biggest, fastest, bestest sign painter. He was bestest because no one else ever made pictures so true to life. But some folks said they were too good when the pictures started coming alive!

Will Slappy have to give up sign painting for good? Or will a couple of timely jobs from the Heavenly Sign Company let him climb to even greater heights? Find out in this delightful tall tale from mid‑20th‑century Chicago.

Picture book • Ages 5–12

Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of The Baker’s Dozen, The Sea King’s Daughter, The Monkey King, and many more children’s books, while his Web site is known internationally as a prime resource for folktales, storytelling, and reader’s theater. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.

Toni Goffe is a British illustrator of numerous well-loved children’s books and is a winner of the 1993 Gold Medallion Book Award. He is also illustrator of Aaron’s The Legend of Lightning Larry.

Simon & Schuster/Atheneum

Hardcover ~ 1993


Hardcover ~ 1993

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Book cover


“Goffe’s freewheeling cartoons perfectly complement this well-told, amiably satirical tale.”—Kirkus Reviews, Sept. 1, 1993

“Good-humored. . . . Lots of possibilities for story hour.”—Booklist, Nov. 1, 1993

“A cheerful, upbeat, all-American legend. Have fun with it.”—Katy Rydell, Stories, Fall 1993

“Not only fun, but a start for many classroom learning experiences. Readers of all ages will enjoy Slappy Hooper.”—Sandra Boback, St. Boniface School, Kingston, PA

“Delightful. . . . [A] welcome addition to the list of American tall tales.”—The Story Bag, Special Review Issue

Sample Text

Hear This Sample Text (1:30 minutes)

You’ve heard about Paul Bunyan, the greatest lumberjack of all time. And you’ve heard about Pecos Bill, the greatest cowboy.

Now let me tell you about Slappy Hooper, the world’s biggest, fastest, bestest sign painter.

You’d better believe Slappy was biggest! Why, he was seven feet tall with shoulders to match, and he weighed three hundred pounds, even without his cap and coverall and brush and bucket.

And fastest? Just give him an eight‑inch brush. Slip! slop! slap! The job was done—and so smooth, you’d never see a brush stroke.

And you bet Slappy was bestest! That was on account of his pictures. No one else ever made them so true to life.

In fact, some folks said they were too true to life.

Slappy’s trouble started with the huge red rose he painted on the sign for Rose’s Florist Shop.

“Slappy, it’s so real!” said Miss Rose Red, the owner. “Why, I can just about smell the fragrance!”

But a week later, Rose Red fluttered into Slappy’s sign shop.

“Slappy, that sign of yours was too good. The bees got wind of it and swarmed all over that rose, trying to get in. They scared away all my customers! That was bad enough, but wait till you see what’s happened now!”

When they reached the florist shop, Slappy saw that the bees were gone. But the rose had withered and died.

“No one buys from a florist with a withered flower on her sign,” said Rose Red. “That’s the last thing you’ll paint for me, Slappy Hooper!”

Sample text copyright © 1993 Aaron Shepard. Top illustration courtesy of Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. Illustration copyright © 1993 by Toni Goffe.

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