On January 12, 1984 – Dr. Seuss along with Random House publishing published the most controversial Dr. Seuss book of all time called The Butter Battle Book. The New York Times acclaimed this book as a “Notable Book of the Year”. Not everyone was impressed with it though.
The Butter Battle Book is an anti-war story, specifically written as a parable about arms races, mutually assured destruction and nuclear weapons.
The book was written during the Cold War era and focuses on the concerns of this era and what life would look like in the event of a nuclear war.
Some also believe the book is full of satire as it tells the story of a deadly war based over foolish conflict over something so small as breakfast food (toast).
The book takes place with the focus on a long curving wall, the Yooks and the Zooks live at opposite sides of this wall. The main dispute over these two sides is the Yooks eat their bread with the butter side up and the Zooks eat their bread with the butter side down.
The conflict starts with simple slingshots and eventually escalates to bombs. The book ends with a stalemate, no resolution is reached and both sides are still at odds. Both sides are sitting there reading to drop their bombs and waiting for the other side to strike.
While The Butter Battle Book is written with a humorous tone, it was written about a topic which scared, upset and angered many people.
The book was eventually pulled from most libraries and book stores.
Now that the Cold War tensions have calmed down, the book is available again (see on Amazon).
It’s hard to believe that a kids book as once pulled from both the shelves at libraries and book stores.