The Sneetches and Other Stories is a collection of stories by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). It is composed of four separate stories, unrelated except in the fact that most of the stories have important morals. The four stories are:
- "The Sneetches"
- "The Zax"
- "Too Many Daves"
- "What Was I Scared Of?"
The first two stories in the book were later adapted, along with Green Eggs and Ham, into the animated TV special Dr. Seuss on the Loose.
This story offers varied lessons. It portrays the senselessness of prejudice and discrimination, and also a lesson of materialism and entrepreneurship.
Sneetches are a group of vaguely avian yellow creatures who live on a beach. Some Sneetches have a green star on their bellies, and in the beginning of the story the absence of a star is the basis for discrimination. Sneetches who have stars on their bellies are part of the "in crowd," while Sneetches without stars are shunned and consequently mopey.
In the story, a con man named Sylvester McMonkey McBean, calling himself a "fix-it-up chappie," appears, driving a cart of strange machines. He offers the Sneetches without stars a chance to have them by going through his Star-On machine, for three dollars. The treatment is instantly popular, but this upsets the original star-bellied Sneetches, as they are in danger of losing their method for discriminating between Sneetches. Then McBean tells them about his Star-Off machine, costing ten dollars. The Sneetches formerly with stars happily pay the money to have them removed in order to remain special.
However, McBean does not share the prejudices of the Sneetches, and allows the recently starred Sneetches through this machine as well. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next,
- "until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
- whether this one was that one... or that one was this one
- or which one was what one... or what one was who."
This continues until the Sneetches are penniless and McBean departs a rich man, amused by their folly. Despite his assertion that "you can't teach a Sneetch," the Sneetches learn from this experience that neither plain-belly nor star-belly Sneetches are superior, and they are able to get along and become friends.
This story is referenced in punk rock band Dead Kennedys' song "Holiday in Cambodia," riot grrrl band Bikini Kill's song "Star Bellied Boy," and in hip-hop ensemble Flobots' song "Simulacra," from their album Onamatopoeia.
This story is also the subject of singer Ben Cooper's song "The Sneetches," in which he sings, "we are nothing only Sneetches, thinking that our stars are brighter than on thars."
"The Zax" is a lesson about the importance of compromise. In the story a North-going Zax and a South-going Zax meet, quite unwillingly, face to face in the Prairie of Prax.
Because they refuse to move east, west, or any direction except their respective headings, the two Zax become stuck, as they refuse to move around each other. The Zax stand so long that eventually a highway overpass is built around them, and the story ends with the Zax still standing there "Unbudged in their tracks."
Like "The Sneetches," "The Zax" is written in anapestic tetrameter and follows a strict rhyme scheme.
"Too Many Daves"
"Too Many Daves" is a very short story about a mother, Mrs. McCave, who named all 23 of her sons Dave. This causes problems in the family, and the majority of the story lists unusual and amusing names she wishes she had given them, such as "Bodkin Van Horn," "Hoos Foos," "Snimm," "Stuffy," "Stinky," "Buffalo Bill," "Oliver Boliver Butt" "Biffalo Buff," or "Zanzibar Buck Buck McFate". The story ends with the statement that "She didn't do it, and now it's too late."
McFate would reappear in Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
"What Was I Scared Of?"
"What Was I Scared Of?" tells the tale of a character who repeatedly meets up with an empty pair of pale-green pants. The character, who is the narrator, is initially afraid of the pants, which are able to stand on their own despite the lack of a wearer. However when he screams for help and the pants also start to cry, he realizes that "They were just as scared as I!" After that the empty pants become good friends with the narrator. Now the boy and the pants are no longer afraid of each other.
This story teaches the lesson that you should not be afraid of things with which you are not familiar.
Unlike the other three stories in this collection, "What Was I Scared Of?" is written in trochaic tetrameter, which is the other meter that Dr. Seuss typically used.
- "Agency of NATO and United Nations to Distribute Dr. Seuss Stories to Foster Racial Tolerance in War-Torn Bosnia". Business Wire (Business Wire, Inc.). 1998-08-10. Retrieved 2006-10-16.
Random House Children's Publishing and Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced today that The Sneetches and Other Stories, a book by the celebrated children's author Dr. Seuss, will be translated by NATO into Serbo-Croatian and distributed in the fall to 500,000 children in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of an information campaign to help encourage racial tolerance.