Book: The Butter Battle Book

The Butter Battle Book
Dr. Seuss
1984

This is one of the Dr. Seuss books that I remember most vividly from when I read it as a child. It chronicles the battle between two countries, one of which eats their bread with the butter side up and the other of which eats their bread with the butter side down. Neither side ever really attacks, but they continuously escalate their threat. The weapons just keep getting bigger and more dangerous until they are locked in a single moment, waiting for one or both of their homelands to be totally wiped out.

I think that this is one of Dr. Seuss’s more political book. I never saw it as a kid, but looking back at it now I see definite cold war themes. That said, I think the message about building more and more dangerous weapons and the vicious cycle it creates is very applicable today. And throughout the whole thing is this stupid butter-themed conflict that really shouldn’t mean anything. Unlike some of Dr. Seuss’s other books where everyone learns to get along and appreciate each other (for example Green Eggs and Ham or The Sneetches), this book doesn’t end with any kind of reconciliation. It doesn’t even end with any kind of resolution of the main conflict. I honestly don’t know why I liked this book as a kid, other than it was an interesting story, but I definitely appreciate it as an adult. I doubt many writers could have gotten away with something like this, but Dr. Seuss had a long history of great nonsense books and political cartoons that somehow gave him a free pass to publish stuff like this. And I’m glad he did, since it is a rare thing in children’s literature.

I like this book a lot and definitely recommend it, but don’t expect warm fuzzy feelings from it!

Publisher’s Description
Official Dr. Seuss Website
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