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The Butter Battle Book: (New York Times Notable Book of the Year) (Classic Seuss) Hardcover – January 12, 1984

4.5 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A cautionary Cold War tale (first told by Dr. Seuss back in 1984), The Butter Battle Book still has a lot to teach about intolerance and how tit-for-tat violence can quickly get out of hand. Explaining the very serious differences between the Zooks and the Yooks, a Zook grandpa tells his grandchild the unspeakable truth: "It's high time that you knew of the terribly horrible thing that Zooks do. In every Zook house and every Zook town every Zook eats his bread with the butter side down!" He then recalls his days with the Zook-Watching Border Patrol, as he gave any Zook who dared come close "a twitch with my tough-tufted prickley Snick-Berry Switch." But when the Zooks fought back, the switches gave way to Triple-Sling Jiggers, then Jigger-Rock Snatchems--even a Kick-a-Poo Kid that was "loaded with powerful Poo-a-Doo Powder and ants' eggs and bees' legs and dried-fried clam chowder."

With lots of fun and more-than-fair digs at the runaway spending and one-upmanship of U.S.-Soviet days, The Butter Battle Book makes a chuckle-filled read whether you're old enough to get the historical references or not. (And with all the Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroos still in service, this book's message is far from obsolete.) (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

Review

"Dr. Seuss chronicles the feud between the Yooks and the Zooks from slingshots through sophisticated weaponry, until each side has the capacity to destroy the world. The language amuses, the drawings are zesty and humorous, and the demand for this book will be large."--School Library Journal.

"Provocative, packs an allegorical punch. The parade of increasingly elaborate (and ridiculous) armaments makes a telling point."--Booklist.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: AD710L (What's this?)
  • Series: Classic Seuss
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (January 12, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394865804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394865805
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"A person's a person, no matter how small," Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. "Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted."

Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped millions of kids learn to read.

Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, he went to Oxford University, intending to acquire a doctorate in literature. At Oxford, Geisel met Helen Palmer, whom he wed in 1927. Upon his return to America later that year, Geisel published cartoons and humorous articles for Judge, the leading humor magazine in America at that time. His cartoons also appeared in major magazines such as Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty. Geisel gained national exposure when he won an advertising contract for an insecticide called Flit. He coined the phrase, "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" which became a popular expression.

Geisel published his first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, in 1937, after 27 publishers rejected it.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, an Academy Award, three Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and three Caldecott Honors, Geisel wrote and illustrated 44 books. While Theodor Geisel died on September 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#19 Overall (See top 100 authors)
#19 in Books
#19 in Books

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Before I get into my review, let me start by saying I missed the Cold War, except for in school history books. That being said, this is an excellent and thought-provoking book for 'kids' of all ages.
This book is about 2 groups, the Yooks and the Zooks, who live separated only by a wall, and are very similar except for the way they butter their bread. This leads to a battle involving constantly bigger weapons, until they come up with the 'big-boy boomeroo', capable of destroying each other's lands. Of course, the book ends before the story does, leaving you guessing on exactly what would happen.
I went through a few stages with this book, making it even better to think about. The first time I heard it, I was about 5, and upset that there was no 'ending'. After a few more times, I decided to use my imagination to create my own ending, which is what many children will do if encouraged by a parent reading with them. As I got older, I realized there was no ending because if it was real, you really wouldn't know how it ended until it happened. This book also made me think about how small differences in people can cause such big problems if you are not open minded. (That was after a few years - in the beginning I wondered why the Zooks didn't just turn their bread upside down and everyone would be the same).
The Butter Battle Book is a wonderful lesson, written in a way that even a child could understand the concept of war, see how differences in people can cause foolish problems, and use their imaginations. I would recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Hardcover
This book describes the conflict between those who eat theirtoast butter-side-up and those who eat it butter-side-down.This paradigm for the cold war serves as a useful lesson in peace and as a warning of the risks of 'deterrence' as a defense policy.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Seuss is a fantastic author; he has imagination, story-telling abilities, and a wonderful and clever sense of political activism. I was telling my history teacher about all the not-so-hidden political messages in all of his works and this work is the perfect example of Dr. Seuss's writing style. The Butter Battle Book has many different levels for what is so often called a children's book from an acclaimed so-called children's author. The battle between Yooks and Zooks over which way butter goes on bread gives children a good, simple, but true story about dealing with petty differences in a constructive way. Otherwise, bad things can happen, like war. That meaning is very good for children to learn and this is a great book to teach kids with. However, adults reading this book can see the obvious historical parallels and the deeper implications of the story line. The pettiness behind the conflict of the Cold War is Dr. Seuss's vehicle for conveying the astounding destructive potential behind a war where the enemies lose sight of their true goals and meaninglessly try to 'out do' each other. The war ends up getting fought for the wrong reasons and something that we will forever regret and can never take back may happen. This is a very real danger and the prejudice attached to battles like the one in this book eat away at our morals, our societies, and our motives. Dr. Seuss has done the world a wonderful lesson by showing this to children and adults alike.
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By A Customer on November 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best Dr. Seuss books ever! I think that The Butter Battle Book and The Lorax are two of Suess's most important works. If you want to get a kid thinking on a larger, more global scale read this book to them. Dr. Seuss combines his usual imaginative poetry and illistrations with a serious, real life problem. I had a LOT of his books in my room as a kid, but this one sticks out in my head as one of the best and most important.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the best satire of an arms race that I have ever seen.
It's effectiveness is enhanced because it all starts out at a very silly level of a border guard using his Snick-Berry switch. Then things go wrong because "a very rude Zook by the name of VanItch snuck up and slingshotted my Snick-Berry switch!" The border guard for the Yooks tells his superior. The scientists get to work, and soon an improved weapon (a Triple-Sling Jigger) is available. The Zooks counter again, and so on it goes. The names, characteristics, and illustrations of the weapons are hilarious. Then, just when you are enjoying the folly, the scientists come up with the BITSY BIG-BOY BOOMEROO, which fits in the palm of a hand. Everyone has to get into a shelter underground because it is so dangerous. "'Grandpa!' I shouted. 'Be careful Oh, gee! Who's going to drop it? Will you . . . ? Or will he . . . ? . . . We'll see. We will see . . . .'" To go from that silliness to that horror in such a short number of pages is an amazingly effective job of story telling.
The book also explores how such conflicts are caused by lack of communication. There's a wall between the Yooks and the Zooks. Over the years, it gets higher and higher. So they can see a little about each other, but not talk. From what they see, they are astonished that one side eats their bread and butter with the butter-side up, while the other eats with the butter-side down. I thought that was a pretty interesting way to capture the kind of small differences that often lead to border wars. Consider the former Yugoslavian states.
The primary drawback of such a story for children is that it is a chilling tale.
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