The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss

The Butter Battle Book: (New York Times Notable Book of the Year) (Classic Seuss) - Dr. Seuss

I did not read this book until high school, a good time to be introduced to the ideas behind the Butter Battle. Like You're Only Old Once!, this book is more for adults than children. I use to think they were outliers but after reading Dr. Seuss Goes to War, I learned he had a history of political comics and humor. That comes out quite a bit here.

 

A man is telling his grandson why the Yooks and Zooks are in conflict. The former eat butter side up bread while the later eat it with the butter side down. The tale goes on to show the escalation of the war as uniforms grow grander and weapons grow deadlier. The last weapon threatens all life and each side has one, waiting to drop it...

 

If you know anything about recent history, the parallels to the Cold War and nuclear weapons are beyond obvious. For a simple and short book, there is so much to consider here. First is how ludicrous it is to fight over which side your bread is buttered! While I do believe there are times a country has to defend itself, this is not about defense but proving who's right. And yes, that is just a waste.

 

The second is the fact the grandfather never questions the fast promotions, weapons that never work or come out on top, etc. I want to smack him upside the head and yell, "think about this!"

 

Thirdly, does anyone else wonder how the Zooks invent perfect counters, bigger weapons, or the exact same things?! It's too much of a coincidence, either the Boys in the Back Room work for both sides or there's a spy there. Either is disturbing.

 

Lastly, I don't like that we get only one side of the conflict; I wish we could have learned more about the Zooks.

 

All in all, an unsettling book and not one I read often. It makes me think, a good thing, but it's often too depressing.