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Oliver Button Is a Sissy
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Oliver Button Is a Sissy

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,090 ratings  ·  175 reviews
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
Paperback, 48 pages
Published May 30th 1979 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 1979)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,090 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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I don’t like the title, but I loved everything else. Tomie dePaola was pioneering the picture book field back in 1979! I’m all about ignoring bullies and doing your own thing no matter what.
Bibiana Jurado
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Xiomara Vasquez
Our protagonist today is a child who does not like to do the things that children are supposed to do. Oliver Button is not interested in football, basketball, or fights. What he likes is reading, painting pictures, walking in the woods, jumping rope, playing with cut-out dolls, etc., but above all what he likes most is to go up to the attic of his house, disguise himself and sing and dance as if he were a great star. And although Oliver does not get involved with anyone his classmates when they ...more
Anna M
Oliver Button Is a Sissy is considered a realistic fiction book because although Oliver Button is made up, this scenario could happen in real life. This book promotes a self of confidence as Oliver Button didn't care what the bullies said, he did what he wanted to do and what he loved. This book also highlights bullying which is a topic that is important for children to know about and be able to recognize. Overall, this was an enjoyable book that I would like to have in my future classroom one d ...more
Edward Sullivan
A new edition of this story, originally published in 1979, about a young boy teased and bullied for preferring to do things that only girls are supposed to enjoy. More relevant than ever.
Ashley Eckard
Jan 21, 2020 added it
Shelves: week-3
Text-to-text connection:

This book after reading it reminded me of another book called Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Why? Both stories have main characters that struggle and have to overcome difficulty. Both characters change at the end of the stories after the obstacles they went through. A little side not; Amazing Grace is one of the books I read to my class because sometimes I and they struggle with being who we want but no matter what we can be anything we want to be).
Stacey Orlando
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oliver Button was a sissy. He did not like to do the things that boys were supposed to do. He liked to walk in the woods, draw pictures, read books, and even play with paper dolls and dress up. A boy yelled at him and told him to play sports like baseball and basketball, which were not things he enjoyed. Oliver’s parents signed him up for a dance class and he was so excited because he got a pair of shiny, black tap shoes. All the boys at school teased him because he danced. They even wrote on t ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
In what could be described as something of a junior Billy Elliot, young Oliver Button moves past the teasing of many of his classmates about his less than masculine interests, and along the way becomes a very good tap dancer, in Oliver Button Is a Sissy.

A lot of the honesty and warmth of this book comes from its autobiographical nature, I think. Anyone who has read the stories in the 26 Fairmount Avenue series will easily spot the parallels between Oliver Button and Young Tomie dePaola. Not onl
Desca Ang
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oliver Button is different than any other boys at his school. He loves drawing, dressing and playing with the dolls and he loves walking by the woods. His parents put him in the dancing school so he can exercise and he's so happy. He gets his shinny shoes and he can learn how to do the tap dance. Sadly, the boys at his school and the people still mock him. He also (in the end) registers himself to a show talent where he can do his tap dance. Even though, he does not come as the winner, it finall ...more
This is a great one for the beginning of the year or if there's bullying or teasing going on in the classroom. The little boy is confident about being himself, even though he's teased for being a sissy because he likes dancing rather than sports. At the end, it's not Oliver that changes but his family and the people around him. This books lends itself well to making schema connections because most students have had the experience of feeling different from others and/or being teased. ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I would only read this to a child who was experiencing bullying and I thought they could relate to it a lot. I realize how important these first books deconstructing gender roles were, but I'd much rather choose from the newer books that treat children going outside their stereotypical gender roles as normal-ish, where the whole story isn't centered around being bullied. ...more
Robert Davis
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Although I can appreciate the idea, the problem for me is that while the ending is optimistic, it is also wholly unrealistic and thus let's down the story as well as the reader. ...more
Class 4B12
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it

In life people will like different things and get judged for that. This is the same problem for Oliver Button. In the story “Oliver button is a sissy” by Tomie dePada, Oliver isn't like most boys because he likes doing girl things instead of boy things. The story teaches us, don't care what others say be yourself and you'll achieve things. This is shown in the story by his dad, boys at school, and Ms.Leah's class.
My first reason why the story teaches us don’t care what others say, be yourself
Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola is realistic fiction book, that tells the story about a boy named Oliver who has a lot of different interests than the other boys his age. Oliver likes to read, draw, walk in the woods, dress-up, and sing and dance, but other boys call him a sissy and even his dad tells him not to be a sissy and “go out and play basketball or football. Any kind of ball!” Oliver doesn’t like to play those games because he isn’t very good and would drop the ball, and he al ...more
Enis Norman
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This piece of realistic fiction really captures the joys and struggles of being yourself in a world with such ingrained gender roles. With a rather simplistic plot, it manages to shine where it matters most. Much of the emotions felt by the characters can be felt through the faces and motions of the characters found within the beautifully drawn illustrations. It is with this emotion of a child simply wanting to be himself, and the constant torment he must endure as a result that the book opens i ...more
Jessica Emly
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: diversity
Oliver Button Is a Sissy, by Tomie dePaola, is a story about a young boy who is constantly being teased and ridiculed by the other boys at school because he doesn't like doing "boy" stuff. Oliver prefers jumping rope, playing dress up, drawing pictures, and dancing. When his parents agree to sign him up for a dance class, the jokes continue at school as the boys play keep away with Oliver's tap shoes and write "Oliver Button is a Sissy" on the wall outside in the school yard. Although Oliver's f ...more
These days I would say that we're all working hard in Western civilisation to break down gendered barriers which place specific societal and cultural signifiers within a certain camp. Children are perhaps better equipped to challenge these and certainly adults are. Yet as much as we attempt to dismantle historical cultural concepts (such as football is only for boys or dance is only for girls) there are those who would still seek to keep them in their place and mock those who strive for somethin ...more
Allison Dowdell
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oliver Button Is a Sissy, by Tomie dePaola, is about a little boy who doesn't like to participate in typical "boy" activities like his classmates do. He is navigating through his childhood and finding hobbies he does like, such as dance, paper dolls and jump rope. He is made fun of by all his peers for being different, but once it comes to the talent show, Oliver blows all his classmates away and they are proud of him.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Theme: Being yourself and pursuing your passions even when t
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mrs.Melaugh Melaugh
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This reissue of a book first published in 1979 has lost none of its charm. Young Oliver “didn’t like to do things that boys are supposed to do.” His father pleads with him to play a sport, but Oliver loves to dance. So, his parents send him to dance school. He is teased by bullies who play keep away with his shiny black tap shoes until the day he performs in the local talent show and his classmates realize he’s a star! At its core, this story gently preaches the importance of accepting people as ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When planning a teaching unit about Bullying, I again came across this classic story by award-winning author/illustrator, Tomie De Paola. The main character, Oliver, doesn't like the rough and tumble sports & games that the other boys in his class enjoy. He likes to draw, sing, dance, & read. His classmates call him a sissy. His parents say that he needs exercise. Since he doesn't like sports, what could he do? Dance was the solution. Oliver began dance lessons and he became so good at tap danci ...more
Ali Gregory
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diversity-book
I really enjoyed reading this book. The message behind the book is very strong and has an encouraging message. This day and time is very different and I think it is great that there is a book out there like this and shares the message of being yourself no matter what happens. The author did a very good job of telling this story and the illustrator did a fantastic job of drawing the pictures and making sure they go along with the book. My favorite part was when the boys stole Oliver's tap shoes a ...more
1979 and a fan of Tomie dePaola and its about acceptance.
This book was my childhood.
Like Oliver Button I was not athletic, but LIke Oliver Button I enjoyed art, reading, theatre, and dress-up...and like Oliver, was made fun of for it.
Oliver's parents are supportive and puts Oliver in Dance class.
Oliver's classmates make fun of him for it....Oliver, like Billy Elliot, is determined to use the bullying to channel it into a positive impact. Can he overcome it?
I do love dePaola's style with his
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for kids that are not exactly in the middle on gender preferences. Oliver Button doesn’t like sports and is not good at them. He likes to play dress up, quietly draw and write, and dance. He’s not exactly like the other boys. He gets bullied for his non-traditional activity choices. This book was written in 1979 long before it was in fashion to celebrate diversity, and atypical gender hobbies and activities were a cause for bullying not including. A great story written well before ...more
Roberta Surface
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bullying
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juliana Lee
Oliver Button didn't like to play sports like the other boys. He liked to read and draw and dance. So Mama and Papa signed him up for dance school and Oliver Button learned to tap dance. The boys at school teased him and wrote on the side of the school building 'Oliver Button is a Sissy'. But on the day after the big talent show, Oliver Button noticed the word sissy had been replaced with the word star! ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oliver is adorable. He just wants to be himself and draw and dance and not do anything involving a ball. His parents are supportive, luckily--though his father is rather reluctant and frames the dancing as exercise. :) He defies his bullies and continues doing what he loves and eventually wins everyone over. This book was on my school's pillars of character reading list under "respect". It was amusing. The illustrations were my least favorite thing as it just isn't my kind of art. ...more
Jessica Shamblin
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As children are exploring their likes and dislikes, they often struggle with acceptance. This book shows bullying of Oliver because of the things he likes to do. The morals are to be yourself, don’t follow gender expectations, and don’t judge others. We need more self positivity, not judgement. I think this is a good book, especially in this day and age as children are breaking past gender barriers.
Heidi Trowbridge
Date read: 10/22/20
Genre-Realistic Fiction
Grade range-end of second beginning of third

This was a great book to illustrate metacognition. I thought the story was something that I see all the time in schools as in a bullying a student. Oliver demonstrated that he had talent in other areas than sports and showed his fellow classmates that he was very talented in tap dancing. He was then accepted for who he was.
Liberty Reads
A story every child (and adult) needs in their personal library.

Oliver Button is a young boy with interests different than his male peers and he is teased mercilessly for it. He sticks to what he loves any way, faces more disappointment, then is able to come out on top bringing everyone else up on higher ground too.

So inspirational. So simple. So important. Tomie DePaola is the master.

Recommended for 4 and up. Should make a reappearance as a family read aloud in 5th- 12th grade too.
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Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-POW-la) was best known for his books for children.

He had a five-decade writing and illustrating career during which he published more than 270 books, including 26 Fairmount Avenue, Strega Nona, and Meet the Barkers.

Tomie dePaola and his work have been recognized with the Caldecott Honor Award, the Newbery Honor Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the New

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