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Dr. Seuss’ Sneetches

April 10, 2009

sneetchNow, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars,
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
The stars weren’t so big; they were really quite small.
You would think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
But because they had stars, all the Star-bellied Sneetches would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”

coverAnd so begins my childhood favorite and one of the least known Dr. Suess stories.   I remember my mother reading this story to me over and over again and then eventually I read it to her over and over again.  Actually, I think I just memorized it and pretended I was reading it.  She played along with exuberance and feigning pride.

The story goes on about the snootiness of the star belly Sneetches and the plight of the plain belly sort; oh such a familiar state of affairs.  One day a scammer arrives on the scene named Sylvester McMonkey McBean and he tells the plain belly Sneetches he has a machine which will put stars on their bellies, for money of course.

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They line up and hand over their cash and when the star belly Sneetches see this, they can’t tell themselves apart from the lower class any longer and that just won’t do.  mcbeanSo, Sylvester sets up his star off machine.  One thing leads to another and before long all of the Sneetches are running into and out of one machine and into the other, until eventually, no one has any money left, except McBean.  At this point, the Sneetches are all mixed up, they can’t tell each other apart and they begin to realize that it doesn’t really matter.

Awwwww, what a lovely feel good sentiment huh?  Parents talk about  what a wonderful life lesson this is for children.  Well, I can tell you that as a child, I was completely oblivious to bigotry and racism and the point was completely lost on me as I think it is on most children.  I just thought it was funny and I liked the rhymes and the pictures.

That day, they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches,
and no kind of Sneetch is the BEST on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars,
and whether they had one or not upon thars.

I believe children are inherently good and that hate is taught.  So, just don’t teach hate; seems simple enough.  Perhaps someone ought to write these sort of books for adults.  Oh well.

There are three other interesting stories in this book:

  • zaxThe Zax, in which a north going Zax and a south going Zax come head to head and neither will get out of the way of the other.
  • davesToo Many Daves, is about a mother who had 23 children and named them all Dave and the ensuing chaos.  Frankly, naming all of her children Dave is the least of her worries.
  • pantsWhat was I scared of, is a story about a  little boy (creature) scared of a ghostly greenish empty pair of pants.  Yeah well, it scared me too.

You can pick up a copy of The Sneetches at Amazon and most book stores.  And, yes, my avatar is a Sneetch, the plain belly sort.


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