The Butter Battle Book

The Butter Battle Book has a special place in my heart from my childhood. It is a lovely rhyming story that was written by the beloved Dr. Seuss.

It was first published on January 12, 1984, but this book is so clever because it is actually an anti-war story and a parable about arms races and mutually assured destruction and nuclear weapons. The book was written during the Cold War era, and it, therefore, reflects the concerns of the time. When you read it you get the notion that all life on earth could be wiped out due to Nuclear war. I remember this feeling from my childhood. I was 15 when it came out.  In the story, the Yooks and the Zooks live on opposite sides of a long curving wall. The Yooks wear blue clothes; the Zooks wear orange clothes. The main dispute between the two cultures is that the Yooks eat their bread with the butter-side up, while the Zooks like to eat their bread with the butter-side down. The conflict between the two cultures leads to an arms race and the threat of mutual destruction.

Dr.Suess book page

By the end of the story, no resolution has been reached and the generals of both sides on the wall poised to drop their bombs, waiting for the other to strike. A young Yook asks, “Who’s gonna drop it? Will you or will he?” To which the reply is, “Be patient. We’ll see. We will see.”

We are starting to see the works of Dr. Seuss on the big screen more and more these days. My kids love the books and the cartoons alike.  Ralph Bakshi created an animated TV special for the Butter Battle Book , and it closely followed the book and kept the cliffhanger ending, with the famous  “The end… maybe” as the conclusion of the story. The good news is that Dr. Seuss called the animation the most faithful adaptation of his work.