Green Eggs and Ham


Published in 1960 by Random House


“[Seuss] can play so many tunes on his simplified keyboard, that, reading him, one is hardly aware that there are not more than fifty words.”
– The New Yorker
“[Seuss] took the common phrase, ham and eggs, and commanded attention by reversing it…He used Sam-I-am, not just Sam and Sam-I-am not only rhymes with green eggs and ham, but has the same metric emphasis.”
– Chuck Jones (director for Looney Tunes, as well as the 1970 Horton Hears a Who! cartoon)


The cover immediately shows us the character in the hat and the plate of green eggs and ham, but once you open the book the first character we meet is Sam-I-am. He is standing on a dog with a sign that says “I am Sam.” He rides past our cover character quietly sitting in a chair reading a newspaper. When Sam comes back into the room he is riding a large cat-like creature and his sign now says “Sam I am.”

Then the character in the hat speaks.

“That Sam-I-am!
That Sam-I-am!
I do not like
that Sam-I-am!”

He is immediately grumpy and says he does not like something. Sam-I-am quickly jumps at the chance to ask him,

“Do you like green eggs and ham?”

Without trying them or giving any explanation, the character in the hat announces that he does not like green eggs and ham.


The story continues with Sam-I-am asking if the hat character would like green eggs and ham in different situations. Each time something new is introduced it builds on top of what has already been asked.


The images quickly escalate into a goat, car, mouse, fox, and train all falling into some water on top of a boat. The hat character yells,

“I could not, would not, on a boat.
I will not, will not, with a goat.
I will not eat them in the rain.
I will not eat them on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE!”

To which Sam-I-am replies,

“You do not like them.
So you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.”

Finally, the character in the hat gives in just so that Sam-I-am will leave him alone. There is one spread of pages with no words. All the characters anxiously lean in watching the character in the hat with a green egg on his fork waiting for him to finally try them.
Green Eggs and Ham

The next page is the first time we see the character in the hat smile as he announces that he DOES like green eggs and ham! And he would eat them in all the places and with all the creatures mentioned in the previous lines.

“Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!
I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,

The end.


The message of the book is pretty simple and an important one for children that are picky eaters. It is summed up simply as, “How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it?” I was a picky eater myself, but my mom would make us green eggs and ham for St. Patrick’s day and, because of this book, I would eat them!

The layout of the images and flow of the text obviously has a lot to do with the success of the book. If Seuss had simply said, “Hey kids, you should eat green eggs and ham” and just had the character in the hat eat them and like them then the message wouldn’t stick. In fact, it would be a pretty boring book. Instead, Seuss immediately creates conflict. The images at the beginning of the book create a back and forth movement that matches the back and forth argument between Sam and the character in the hat.

Sam enters from the left and exits right, then swings instantly back around to come in from the right and exit left. The rest of the book continually presses forward to the right as the character in the hat tries to get away from Sam-I-am. This creates an amazing momentum to the images that goes well with the constant build up and flow of the words.

When we finally come to the moment that the character in the hat starts to give in, the next three spreads put the character in the hat on the left page and Sam-I-am on the right page. They stare at each other with the spine of the book splitting them down the middle. This clearly defines the two sides of the conflict.



Once the character in the hat tries the green eggs and ham, and finds that he likes them, he joins Sam-I-Am on the same page with a smile on his face, showing that the conflict is resolved.


Once again, following the pattern of all Beginner Books, there is no dedication.

Seuss used his usual colors; red, yellow and turquoise, but this time he also added green. Like in Bartholomew and the Oobleck, where green was only used for the Oobleck, green was only used for the green eggs and ham.

This amazing book came about when Seuss’ publisher, Bennett Cerf, bet Seuss fifty dollars that he could not write a book using only fifty words. Seuss obviously won the bet and created his top selling children’s book at the same time. The pattern of most words used is fairly interesting. The word “not” is used 82 times, “I” is used 81 times, and “Anywhere ” which is the only word that has more than one syllable is used only 8 times. I find this interesting, because children are very focused on themselves so using “I” so many times allows the children to see themselves as the main character. Also, children, especially picky eaters, often exclaim that they “will not” do something that their parents are asking them to do. This once again helps children relate to the situation and therefore WANT to read the book.

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Princeton University Class of 1985 recited the entire text of Green Eggs and Ham when Seuss came to the school to receive an honorary degree. Seuss was often overwhelmed by fans of his books. Many people called him a genius, to which he replied,

“If I am a genius, why do I have to work so hard. I know my stuff looks like it was all rattled off in 28 seconds, but every word is a struggle and every sentence is like the pangs of birth.”


Green Eggs and Ham continues to pop up in social media ever since it’s creation in 1960.

It was put together with The Sneetches and Other Stories and released as Dr. Seuss on the Loose cartoon in 1973.  The voice of “The Guy in the big hat” (as IMDB puts it) was voiced by Paul Winchell who also did the voice of Tigger for many years. I have attached a link to the video on It’s very short and sticks to the actual words from the book, it just adds a little sing-song element that makes it very 70’s.


In 1991 Reverand Jesse Jackson read part of Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update in honor of Dr. Seuss who died that year. It is a wonderful short clip and I have put the link to below.


In 2003 a Game Boy Advanced Green Eggs and Ham video game was released.



“You do not like them.
So you say,
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.”

This simple and fun line basically sums up the entire book and I imagine the 70’s cartoon voice saying it and it just makes me smile.


This is the inside cover image. I  think it is beautifully drawn and Sam-I-Am has always been one of my favorite Seuss characters. He’s so content in this illustration.


Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor



2 comments on “Green Eggs and Ham

  1. I grew up with Dr. Seuss’s books! And Green Eggs and Ham was my first choice for a book review when I was in High School. however, my teacher said it was too childish, and he didn’t believe there could have been a deeper analysis and discussion in any of Dr. Seuss’s books!

    I love your blog and how you analysed each book!

    I’m reading Dr. Seuss books to my baby, and she loves the rhythmic patterns and the crazy drawings. When she’s a little older, perhaps I could share these to her, too.

    Kudos to you and to your blog! ❤

    • jackstrebor says:

      Thank you so much! It means a lot to me that it is a fun and sometimes helpful place for Seuss lovers to learn more about the books they enjoyed as a child. Boy oh boy was your teacher wrong, ha. My teacher was the same way when I said I wanted to do a report on Beatrix Potter’s work. Children’s books are often the best material to dig deeper on.

      Glad to hear your baby enjoys the rhythm and the crazy drawings : )

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