Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Review: The Sneetches by Dr Suess

In Dr Suess's "The Sneetches" there are two kinds of almost identical creatures differentiated only by whether they have a star on their belly or not. Sneetch society operates such that those with stars on their bellies are the elite who attend frankfurter roast parties on the beach whilst those without stars are the outcasts - a sort of apartheid system, racism based upon the smallest of differences. This system prevails until a travelling salesman, Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives on the beach with his star-on machine and convinces the starless Sneetches that for $5 they will get a star and become part of the elite. Later the same salesman convinces the original star-belly Sneetches that stars are out of fashion and for $10 they can take a turn in his star-off machine. So long as the Sneetches have money chaotic scenes of these weird creatures going in and out of Sylvester McMonkey McBean's machines ensues; it's hilarious but with potent messages.

By using humour and simple rhyming text a warning about elitism/racism and marketing are delivered to the youngest reader but of course it works on a variety of levels, making for a wonderful book that adults can really enjoy when reading to their children. Of course this is a simple book that can be read by children themselves and they will enjoy reading it again and again; this middle-aged child still enjoys it as much today as he did when he was just six years old.

Of course, one of the highlights of any Dr Suess book are the illustrations. In "The Sneetches" the author excels himself with wonderfully expressive, child-like faces of the Sneetches conveying their varying emotions from page to page. Add to this the wonderful set of contraptions touted by Sylvester McMonkey McBean, all set against the typically Suessian landscape and you have a great collection of art here.

The Sneetches is a wonderful story with amusing rhymes and very funny pictures and will be enjoyed by any reader, particularly those with children. In addition this book contains 3 other amusing stories: "The Zax", "Too Many Daves" and "What was I Scared of?" The Sneetches is not one of Dr Suess's most well-known books, but deserves to be recognized as one of his best such is the quality of the message, the illustrations and the rhyming text.

I would recommend this book to anyone who can read and, furthermore, I would recommend that those who can, read it to those who cannot yet read. If you are a parent then buy this book for your children. If you are not a parent then buy it anyway and read it yourself, you will not regret it.

Score: 10/10

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