Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham is a children's book by Dr. Seuss.
The title is a sort of pun. In the U.S., "green eggs and ham" is a breakfast menu item in which normal eggs are cooked with spinach or some other green vegetable, and served with normal ham. Dr. Seuss's conceit was to imagine that the phrase describes naturally green eggs (that is, with green yolks) accompanied by green ham.
There are two characters: one named Sam-I-am, and a second who is never named. Sam is filled with energy and enthusiasm; his opposite number is morose and irritable. The plot revolves around Sam-I-am's efforts to get his friend to try "green eggs and ham" (as described above). The friend refuses to eat the dish, and only wants to be left in peace. Sam-I-am goes through a variety of locations (house, car, tree) trying to persuade his friend to eat, but without success.
The triumphant conclusion of Seuss's tale occurs when Sam-I-am's friend, standing in shallow water after a train wreck, surrounded by various people and beasts, finally agrees to try the dish and turns out to be a great enthusiast. The instant turnaround in the anonymous character's attitude is somewhat similar to that of the Grinch, whom Sam-I-am's friend physically resembles except in having floppy ears.
Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss's "Beginner Books", written in a very simple vocabulary for beginning readers. The vocabulary of the text consists of just 50 different words, of which 49 are monosyllabic. Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss's publisher, wagered $50 that he couldn't write a book using only 50 words after Seuss completed The Cat in the Hat, which used 220. Despite Seuss' success, Cerf never paid off.
The tale is in the form of a so-called "cumulative" story, with a list of circumstances that gets repeated as it gets longer. Thus, one of Sam's friend's refusals goes:
I do not like them in a box. I do not like them with a fox. I do not like them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
The fifty words used are: a am and anywhere are be boat box car could dark do eat eggs fox goat good green ham here house I if in let like may me mouse not on or rain sam Sam-I-am say see so thank that them there they train tree try will with would you
Like many of Seuss's characters, Sam-I-am and his friend are ambiguous between people and animals; they are furry with large snouts, but stand upright, can speak, and have human facial expressions.
Sam-I-am's friend wears a tall black hat that imitates his body language: it startles, cringes, rises up indignant, etc. in synchrony with its owner.
The book also includes a number of Seuss's characteristic elaborate machines: there is a complex platter-presenting device, large artificial hands on poles to illustrate Here and There, an vehicle with a mysteriously-appearing door from which a goat emerges, and an astonishingly rickety railroad viaduct.
Green Eggs and Ham was published in 1960 and continues to be very popular. In fact, it is the fourth best selling children's hardcover book of all time, having sold over seven million copies up to 2004. In 1999, the National Education Association conducted an online survey of the 100 most popular children's books. On both the children's and the teachers' lists, Green Eggs and Ham was ranked third, just above another Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.
The book is most often read to or by young children (one reviewer recommends ages 4-8), but Web data suggest that it is also very popular among adults as well, many of whom fondly remember having encountered the book when they were little.
Adaptations and popular culture
The Canadian musical group Moxy Früvous has performed a musical version of the story, complete with acting and props, during their live shows; this work has never been recorded because of copyright issues.
Green Eggs and Ham has been adapted as a cartoon and staged as a children's opera, called by a Boston Globe music critic "the most popular children's piece since Peter and the Wolf".
Since Dr. Seuss's death, a determined effort has been made to merchandise his characters outside the context of the original books, a practice Dr. Seuss did not permit while he was alive and well. Thus, a Green Eggs and Ham computer game for children has been marketed, as well as a line of Green Eggs and Ham toys.
Green Eggs and Ham is published under ISBN 0394800168; clicking on this number accesses the Wikipedia's book search page.
- I am Sam drawing from Sarah Bain Gallery - Exclusive Artworks: The Art of Dr. Seuss.
- Amazon.com's Search Inside The Book includes browsing Front Cover, Sample Pages 3-5, and Back Cover as well as doing searches of the entire book.
- Virent Ova! Viret Perna!! (Latin version) includes Front Cover, Sample Pages 9-11, and Back Cover. ISBN 0865165556
- Sam I Am Says Macromedia Flash Player game from Seussville.
- Green Eggs Scramble Shockwave game from Seussville.
- Sam-I-Am without his ham Maze from Cyber-Seuss.
- Green Eggs and Ham recipes from Seussville.
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