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Children's Nonfiction Modern

The Blue Jean Book

The Story Behind the Seams

by (author) Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2005
Modern, Customs, Traditions, Anthropology, Fashion
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 11 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12


The story of denim's rise from modest workpants to high-fashion statement.

Ever since Levi Strauss made the first blue jean pants in California in the 1870s, everyone has wanted a pair. No one imagined America's love of denim would travel around the world, yet jeans remain an essential part of our lives. The Blue Jean Book chronicles this love affair.

Researchers suggest we're happiest when we're in our jeans. They express our personalities: compare the person who wears the latest designer label to someone who prefers the thrift store variety.

The Blue Jean Book takes you deep into the world of denim. Chapters include:

  • The Birth of the Blues: 1870 to 1900 -- Levi Strauss and the origin of jeans
  • Movers and Shakers: 1900 to 1940 -- From workpants to play pants
  • Blue Jean Time Machine: 1940 to 1970 -- From WWII wear to the trademark of teen rebellion
  • The Jean Scene: 1980s -- Jeans go designer
  • Borderless Blues: 1990s -- The politics of pants: sweatshops, ecological impacts
  • Panting for Perfection -- 21st century jeans

From their origins with hardscrabble miners and cowboys, to their popularity among laborers, rebels, and the incurably hip, The Blue Jean Book is the perfect fit for anyone who wants to know the story behind the seams.


About the author


Tanya Lloyd Kyi has written over fifteen books of fiction and nonfiction for middle-grade and young-adult readers, including many award winners. Her recent titles for Annick Press include Extreme Battlefields: When War Meets the Forces of Nature (2016), DNA Detective (2015), and When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival (2014). Tanya lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and two children.


Tanya Lloyd Kyi's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Well-documented facts as well as entertaining trivia sidebars... a readable and engaging text... Not only an excellent recommendation for historical or cultural assignments, this survey is also a sure bet for booktalks and reluctant readers.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This fascinating Story Behind the Seams not only traces the evolution of jeans, but it provides a cultural and social history of the 20th century. The life and times of Levi Strauss and his business partner, Jacob Davis, are explored in early chapters, along with their main competitor, Henry David Lee... The book features eye-catching page layout and design. Sidebars are in the shape of back pockets. A series of time capsules offers insight into history-making world events, such as Behind the Iron Curtain: Jeans Were There. Full-page vintage advertisements are a great addition, and they complement the text.... The dark side of the fashion industry is examined in the Borderless Blues chapter.... Students will appreciate the source list at the end, which includes books, journal articles, websites and video recordings. The Blue Jean Book is bursting at the seams with well-written, engaging material. Highly Recommended.

Canadian Materials

An excellent starting point for discussions on the global economy. This fact-packed small book covers a lot of history in an engaging and entertaining manner.


An enjoyable read for anyone wishing to know more about this fashion item and an excellent resource for an introduction to product development and economy.

School Library Journal

Fascinating... not only traces the evolution of jeans, but it provides a cultural and social history of the 20th century... bursting at the seams with well-written, engaging material.

CM Magazine

Colorful... Kyi organizes a good deal of information and communicates it clearly, though with a decidedly informal tone. With a sidebar or color illustration on nearly every page, the book has an approachable look that adds to its appeal.


Informing and entertaining... will lead teens from what is close to their skins to an understanding of the multiple movements, events, and attitudes that surround the enduring jeans.


Starred Selection 2006 Starred Selection 2006 Starred Selection

Canadian Children's Book Centre

Librarian Reviews

The Blue Jean Book: The Story Behind the Seams

An entertaining account of the making and marketing of blue jeans, bursting with humorous detail and illustrations. Archival photos provide a cultural and social history of the 20th century.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2006.

Other titles by Tanya Lloyd Kyi