Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 319

Picture Book: The Butter Battle Book

Author & Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

Summary: Grandfather Yook takes his grandson to the wall that separates the Yooks from the Zooks. He explains the horrible thing that the Zooks do. They eat their bread with the butter side down! Grandfather has been a Zook-watcher for the Border Patrol where he used to be armed with a Snick-Berry Switch. He goes on to explain that one day a very rude Zook, Van Itch, came to the wall and slingshotted his switch. After reporting to the Chief Yookeroo, he was given a fancy suit and a bigger weapon. When he meets Van Itch again, armed and ready, Van Itch runs away, but he soon returns with a weapon that makes Grandfather’s weapon obsolete. The pattern repeats Seusian-style with fantastical weapons and contrived words galore until both the Yook and the Zook are on top of the wall, poised with small but very damaging bombs in their hands. The grandson is watching so that he may be a witness to history. Here’s the ending to this cautionary tale: ”Grandpa! I shouted. Be careful! Oh, gee! Who’s going to drop it? Will you…? Or will he?” “Be patient,” said Grandpa. “We’ll see. We will see….”

Hanna’s Comments: It is likely that Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, wrote this book in response to the escalation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Although nuclear weaponry is still a major problem, this picture book can serve to encourage conversations about other topics that relate to religious issues such as tolerance, insulation, respect for differences, the culture of war, or peacemaking. Be sure to make connections to real issues your audience understands such as violence in the media or religious intolerance. Also, ask your audience, "Who in the story is benefitting as the potential for violence progresses?" Relate their comments to modern situations of war, oppression, or aggression.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Random House, 1984

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 56

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, audio, A video is available on The Best of Dr. Seuss dvd collection has The Butter Battle Book, Daisy Head Mayzie, & Horton Hatches the Egg. Random House has created a website full of Dr. Seuss activities and information. Here’s the link:

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: anger, anxiety/worry, armor, challenges, competition, conflict, conformity, differences, disputes/fighting/opposition, diversity, exile/separation/walls, fear, grandparents, hatred, heritage, intolerance, judgment/judges/judging, legacies, neighbors, pacifism/peace/peacemakers, power, prejudice, pride, protecting/protection, religious differences, tolerance, violence, war/war veterans

Scripture Connections: They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks… (Isaiah 2b-4); love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27); that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2:2)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of youth who are talking about the culture of war, violence in the media, reconciliation, or peacemaking. Also, for adult or youth programming, consider checking out The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss by James W. Kemp.

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