Oliver Button Is a Sissy

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A little boy must come to terms with being teased and ostracized because he?d rather read books, paint pictures, and tap-dance than participate in sports. ?There is a good balance between the simple text . . . and the expressive pictures . . . an attractive little book.??School Library Journal

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A little boy must come to terms with being teased and ostracized because he’d rather read books, paint pictures, and tap-dance than participate in sports. “There is a good balance between the simple text . . . and the expressive pictures . . . an attractive little book.”—School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881033571
  • Publisher: Demco Media
  • Publication date: 5/28/1979
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,472,279
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Tomie dePaola
Tomie dePaola
Best known for his award-winning picture book Strega Nona and for the 26 Fairmount Avenue series of chapter books, Tomie dePaola is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in the field of children's literature.


Born in 1934 into a large extended Irish/Italian family, Tomie dePaola received his art education at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and the California College of Arts & Crafts. Although he always wanted to create children's books, he spent several years applying his talents to the fields of education, theater, and graphic design. In the mid-1960s, he received his first commission to illustrate a children's science book. A year later, he published his first original picture book, The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin. Today, he is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in children's literature.

In addition to illustrating stories by other writers, DePaola has created artwork for collections of poetry, nursery rhymes, holiday traditions, and folk and religious tales. But, he is most famous for books of his own creation, especially Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch"), the beloved story of an old woman who uses her magical powers to help the people of her small Italian village. Written in 1975, this Caldecott Honor winner is still delighting children today.

DePaola admits that there are strong autobiographical elements in many of his books (Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs, The Art Lesson, Stagestruck), but nowhere is this more evident than in 26 Fairmount Avenue, a series of charming chapter books based on his Connecticut childhood. Taking its name from the address of his family home, the series captures the experiences and emotions of a young boy growing up in the late 1930s and early '40s in the shadow of World War II. The first book in the series received a 1999 Newbery Honor Award.

DePaola and his work have been recognized with many honors, including the Smithsonian Medal, the Kerlan Award for "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal, and several awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In 1999, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts bestowed on dePaola the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award for the body of his work.

Good To Know

  • Tomie dePaola's name is pronounced Tommy de POW-la.

  • Between college and graduate school, dePaola spent a short time in a Benedictine monastery before determining that religious life was not for him.

  • Using a combination of watercolor, tempera, and acrylic, dePaola's artistic style is best described as folk-traditional.

  • DePaola's favorite painters and strongest artistic influences are Matisse, Giotto, and Ben Shahn.
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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 5 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
    • Posted March 9, 2009

      Wonderful (a must-read, even for "Upper Graders"

      I must disagree with Anonymous.

      When you take into account the fact that Oliver dislikes sports and loves to don a top hat and dance around the house, this is more significant than just his penchant for art, books, etc. as you pointed out.

      This concept, to be learned at such a young age (this book can be used even for Kindergarten), is very impactful. And it is handled gracefully and sensitively by Tomie De Paola.

      I especially appreciate now that the term "Sissy" does sound so harsh. In these times in which we live, it is a useful lesson for children to see. That those who used such harsh words can have a change of heart in the end (like these mean boys, who ultimately say that "Oliver Button is a Star.")

      I absolutely LOVE this book.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted September 9, 2008

      It's based on 1970s gender-stereotypes.

      I am a student teacher that loves the author, but was disappointed with the book. I have boys in my class that love to read, draw and do many of the things that the main character does -- for which he is called a 'sissy'. It would not occur to my boys that these activities were 'Sissy-like' or unboyish. My cooperating teacher agreed that the story was problematic. We chose not to read it to the class because we didn't want to put the notion in any child's head that these activities were questionable for boys. The book comes out of the 1970s and is based on true 1970s/1980s gender issues and stereotypes --I was born in 1965 and I lived through this era. When the book was written, it was certainly cutting edge and made a statement. It is far less relevent today and not a great pick for 21st Century children.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 13, 2004

      wonderful lesson

      I was thoroughly delighted that there are books like this available for kids. This book contains a wonderful lesson and example for children to use in life. There should be more great stories like this one!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 27, 2002

      It's OK to be Different!

      This is an excellent book that confronts gender stereotypes and the importance of accepting people for who they are. Oliver Button does not engage in the traditional activities that boys do, and thus, he is faced with repercussions and consequences (based on how others feel Oliver should behave/act). I teach fourth grade and - though a picture book - it is the ideal book to discuss self-confidence and diversity and the significance of accepting individuals while recognizing their accomplishments and contributions.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 4, 2009

      No text was provided for this review.

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