Monday, March 2, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 317

Picture Book: The Sneetches and Other Stories

Author & Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

Summary: The Star-Belly Sneetches brag about their stars and look down upon the Plain–Belly Sneetches, excluding them from games, parties, and feasts. Then Sylvester McMonkey McBean shows up with a contraption to put stars on the bellies of the Plain-Belly Sneetches for a low price of course. All pay the price and enter the machine. The Star-Bellied Sneetches react with concern that they may not know who has the natural star-bellies. Just in time McBean convinces them that “Belly stars are no longer in style,” and offers, for a price of course, to remove their stars. This pattern repeats until none of the Sneetches are quite sure how they started and all their money is spent. McBean departs with a laugh, “They never will learn.” However, the Sneetches do learn. They decide that “Sneetches are Sneetches. And no kind of Sneetch is the best.”

Hanna’s Comments: I didn’t dare try to summarize a Seuss book with clever rhyme although I was tempted. Many folks the world over would agree that Seuss was a genius of whimsical verse and manufactured words. Today is the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Geisel, one of my heroes, so I’ll be offering his books all week. This story has much to offer children and adults in faith communities because it humorously offers some of our most frustrating human qualities: our tendency toward acquiring status, creating cliques, and jealousy. McBean, like so many humans, is ready to take advantage of our faults. He gets rich off the Sneetches, but the Sneetches do learn in the end. If only it was that easy for us humans.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Random House, 1961

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 25

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, There is a video of this story on Youtube.com and in the video collection Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories (also includes The Zax and Too Many Daves). Random House has created a website full of Dr. Seuss activities and information. Here’s the link: www.seussville.com.

PBT Category: Classic

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: aspirations/dreams, beauty, belonging, change, competition, conformity, consumerism/consumption/riches, coveting/envy/jealousy, differences, exclusion/inclusion, humanity, identity/names, judgment/judges/judging, prejudice, pride, race relations/racism, religious differences, segregation, social justice, suspicion

Scripture Connections: You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s (Exodus 20:17); judge not, and you will not be judged (Luke 6:37); do not judge by appearances (John 7:24); so where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder (James 3:16)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this picture book or its video format in a program for adults or children that tackles issues such as status, exclusivity, division, or marginalization in response to our Holy Scriptures which direct us to refrain from judging others. Also, for adult or youth programming, consider checking out The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss by James W. Kemp.