The Star-Belly Sneetches think they're better than the Plain-Belly Sneetches, so they always exclude them from their activities. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are very sad about being left out of the fun, until one day, Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes to town offering to fix all their troubles with his magical machine that can give them stars. Of course, the Star-Belly Sneetches can't have everyone looking the same, so they take McBean up on his offer to remove their stars with his other machine. Utter chaos ensues as each group of Sneetches have stars added or removed from their bellies until they run out of money to pay McBean and eventually realize that whether they have a star or not isn't what's really important.
The Sneetches and three other classic Seuss short stories grace this volume which highlights the issues of racism and prejudice, as well as the importance of being tolerant and accepting of those who are different from us.
I've been a huge fan of Dr. Seuss since I was a child, but until I read The Lorax for the first time a few years ago, I had never realized that he was an author with the heart of an activist. Much like The Lorax, The Sneetches and Other Stories tackles mature themes in a non-threatening, even humorous, way that kids can understand. All four stories in the book have the underlying message of tolerance, acceptance and compromise with those who are different from us or with whom we may not see eye to eye.
In The Sneetches, we have the story of how the Star-Belly Sneetches think they are better than the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and as a result, the Plain-Belly Sneetches are excluded from the Star-Belly Sneetches's activities. That is until Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes to town with his magical machine that adds or removes stars, creating utter chaos, and eventually rendering stars irrelevant. I really liked this story about how our differences don't really matter. The illustrations are cute, and I was especially moved by how incredibly sad the Plain-Belly Sneetches looked when they were being shut out.
In The Zax, we have two Zaxes who each have their own way of thinking and both absolutely refuse to alter their course. This leaves them at a stubborn impasse as the world goes on around them. I thought this was a great story about the importance of compromise.
Too Many Daves is about a mother who named all of her twenty-three sons Dave. I have to admit that I wasn't entirely certain of the meaning behind this one, but I think it was about how we are all the same and yet each one of us is also unique.
Last but not least, in What Was I Scared of? the cute, little, nameless protagonist is afraid of a pair of pants that walks around by itself, because it's so different than anything he's ever seen before. When he realizes that the pants are as scared of him as he is of them, the two are able to offer comfort to one another and become friends. I thought this was another great story about the importance of accepting those who are different from ourselves.
Overall, The Sneetches and Other Stories was an enjoyable book that managed to address some serious issues in a fun, easy to understand way. I highly recommend it for "kids" of all ages.
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