The Sneetches is about two types of creatures, separated by having or not having stars on their bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches think they are the best, and look down upon Sneetches without stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches remain depressed and oppressed, prohibited from associating with their star-bellied counterparts, until Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes along with his Star-on and Star-off machines. He begins to give stars to the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and soon they are happy, for they look like their elite counterparts. The original Star-Belly Sneetches are angry at no longer being different and special, so they get Sylvester to remove all their stars. This continues back and forth until no one can remember which Sneetches were originally what, and an epiphany strikes them all at once: that it really doesn’t matter whether a Sneetch has a star belly or not - they are all really the same, and can coexist and be friends with one another.

This story teaches children a valuable lesson through not-so-subtle metaphor as only Dr. Seuss can. It provides the message that race and ethnicity need not be dividing lines in our society, and that we can coexist peacefully, regardless of our external differences.

However, it is important to note that peace and harmony were only reached when the Sneetches no longer knew who was who, an issue that goes beyond the Plain-Belly Sneetches' attempts to assimilate by arming themselves with the "socially acceptable" physical attributes held only by the Star-Belly Sneetches. This message could be misinterpreted to suggest that we should disregard our cultural history, and that shedding our heritage for a new universal identity is the only way to achieve peaceful coexistence. It seems to teach that tolerance equals anonymity, which is a step backward from our attempts to teach acceptance and finding individual identity. Despite this counterproductive message, The Sneetches can still be an effective teaching tool, if the issue is addressed for its negative implications.

Author's Bio
Excerpted from

At the time of Theodor Seuss Geisel's death in 1991, his 46 children's books had sold more than 200 million copies, and his last, Oh, the Places You'll Go! (1990), was still on the bestseller lists. His books, which he both illustrated and wrote, have been translated into twenty languages as well as Braille.

Better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, he populated his odd and fanciful children's books with a hybrid bestiary of Wockets, Whos, Grinches, bunches of Hunches, Bar-ba-loots, red fish, blue fish, and a fox in socks. He once remarked in an interview, "If I were invited to a dinner party with my characters, I wouldn't show up."

His stories march forward at an incantatory, rhythmic pace, and are full of tongue-twisters, word play, and highly inventive vocabulary. The American Heritage Dictionary in fact credits Dr. Seuss as the originator of the word "nerd," which made its first appearance in his 1950 book, If I Ran the Zoo: "And then just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo a Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!"

His books were originally considered too outlandish to appeal to children. His first, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937), was reputedly rejected by twenty-eight publishers before it finally found a home at Random House. It was one of the company's most prescient decisions: former Random House President Bennett Cerf once remarked, "I've published any number of great writers, from William Faulkner to John O'Hara, but there's only one genius on my authors list. His name is Ted Geisel."

Refer to the official Seuss website biography for more details.

Illustrator's Bio
Dr. Seuss
authored and illustrated the book - see Author Bio

Author's Comments
There is no author commentary available for this book.

Publishing History
Hardcover August 1961 by Random House
Hardcover reprint May 1976

Lesson Plans
AskERIC - The Sneetches - Teaching Phonograms through "The Sneetches"

Learn NC Lesson Plan - The Sneetches and Teaching Diversity