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Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham is a children's book by Dr. Seuss, first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2016, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide. The story has appeared in several adaptations starting with 1973's Dr. Seuss on the Loose starring Paul Winchell as the voice of both Sam-I-am and the first-person narrator.
The story follows a strange creature who does not like green eggs and ham and his adversary Sam-I-Am who wants him to eat it. The story becomes a refrain as Sam persistently follows his rival through an assortment of locations (in a house, in a box, in a car, in a tree, on a train, in the dark, in the rain, on a boat) and dining partners (a mouse, a fox, and a goat). The creature finally gives in and tries the dish, just to make Sam “let him be”, and finds it quite tasty, happily responding, "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-am."
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 words and was the result of a bet between Seuss and Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss's publisher, that Seuss (after completing The Cat in the Hat using 236 words) could not complete an entire book without exceeding that limit. The 50 words 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, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.
Reception and cultural impact
Green Eggs and Ham was published on August 12, 1960. By 2001, it had become the fourth-best selling English-language children's hardcover book of all time. As of 2014, the book has sold 8 million copies. In 1999 the National Education Association (NEA) conducted an online survey of children and teachers, seeking the 100 most popular children's books. The children ranked Green Eggs and Ham third, just above another Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat. The teachers ranked it fourth. Teachers ranked it fourth again in a 2007 NEA poll. Scholastic Parent & Child magazine placed it #7 among the "100 Greatest Books for Kids" in 2012. That same year, it was ranked number 12 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal – the first of five Dr. Seuss books on the list.
The book has become sufficiently ingrained in the cultural consciousness that U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead referenced Green Eggs and Ham in his September 21, 2007 court ruling after receiving an egg in the mail from prisoner Charles Jay Wolff who was protesting against the prison diet. Muirhead ordered the egg destroyed and rendered his judgment in the style of Seuss. Senator Ted Cruz read the book on the floor of the United States Senate during his filibuster over the funding over Obamacare. Musician will.i.am has stated that his moniker is inspired by the story.
On September 29, 1991, following Dr. Seuss' death earlier that week, the Reverend Jesse Jackson recited an excerpt of Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live during a special tribute segment.