Bridgette Redman's Reviews > Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
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Feb 02, 12

it was amazing

I'm struck with how many of my values were reinforced by one Dr. Seuss (or Dr. Theodor Seuss Giesel).

Horton Hears a Who taught tolerance. There's a Wocket in My Pocket encouraged imagination. Oh the Thinks You Can Think exhorted you to use your brain creatively. Yertle the Turtle preached humility.

Then there is Green Eggs and Ham. There has never been a book that so eloquently teaches without preaching that there is value in things strange and different. It is a children's book that operates on two levels. First and most obvious, it encourages kids (and adults) to try new foods, no matter how strange they look. Second, and dearer to my heart, it encourages the reader to expand beyond the familiar in all areas of life.

The book's protagonist is a fuzzy tall creature who is visited by Sam-I-Am. Sam acts as a catalyst to challenge our hero (who is never given a name and only called "you"--yet another brilliant stroke of Seuss). He's sitting in his chair, reading his paper and wearing a dour scowl. Sam zips by with a smile and a sign. Right away our hero decides he doesn't like Sam. After all, Sam is threatening his comfortable, familiar environment.

There is nothing respectable about a creature riding a funny looking dog, then a ferociously cuddly cat, and who can't even decide what sentence order he wants to use to introduce himself. (It is vaguely reminiscent of Hamlet who thought Horatio might not understand, "Horatio, I am dead." So he repeated his sentence with, "I am dead, Horatio." So much more clear!) Neither does Sam endear himself when he offers up green eggs and ham. Perhaps if he'd brought hot dogs and beer or roast beef and potatoes, our hero would have warmed to Sam. But no, he brought something exotic and strange. It was something our hero didn't even have to taste to "know" it would be disgusting.

So Sam did everything he could to make his dish more palatable--everything he could without changing the basic nature of green eggs and ham or hiding its taste with coverings of sauce or other foods. Sam wanted our hero to try the food just as it was and appreciate it for what it was.

Sam is also persistent. He doesn't leave and decide to wait until the hero comes around on his own. He doesn't offer him something else or say, "Well, he's too old to change." No, he keeps at it. And, int he end, our hero changes. He gets tired of all the pestering and gives in. To his great surprise (though not ours), he likes it.

About three years ago, I got to be Sam. I am married to an extraordinarily talented man (really, I'm not biased at all!) who has an incredibly rich voice and can quote from any movie he's ever seen--even if it was a decade ago. I had been active in our local community theater group for a while, something I did alone because my husband had no interest in it. I kept nagging and pleading for him to come to see the shows and to participate in them. Finally, I was asked to costume a historical play, "Lion in Winter." It was from one of my husband's favorite time periods (he's a huge history buff) and I knew he would perform beautifully in any of the roles. I begged him and begged him to come out to auditions and on the final night of auditions, he said, "If I go, will you stop nagging me about it?"

I paused, considering, "About this show?"

"Yes," said he.

"Yes," agreed I.

He went, was cast as Richard the Lionhearted, and hasn't left the stage since. In two weeks he will walk the boards as Faustus in Christopher Marlowe's Tragedy of Doctor Faustus and this summer he will perform with a professional group in Shakespeare's Richard the III and Midsummer Night's Dream.

Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-Am. Thank you for every lesson that you taught.
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