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Green Eggs and Ham - Dr Seuss
Member Name: shroud
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr Seuss
Date: 11/07/07, updated on 11/07/07 (131 review reads)
Advantages: comicly funny scenarios, positive message, intro to poetic cadences, simple early vocab, phonics
Disadvantages: unwary adults unaware of the poetic meter may stumble horrifically when reading
~~~ A bit about the author and how the book came to be~~~~
On March 2, 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a park commisioner for Queen Victoria Park at Niagra Falls, and actually owned the zoo within its grounds. His love of animals and the zoo topic would touch his works time and time again, proving that his own childhood played a vital part in his writings for children. His middle name of Seuss was also his mother’s maiden name, and first appeared as his by line while at university, when he was forced by the college to officially resign from his extra curricular activities after being caught breaking Prohibition as the host of a party where drinking of alcohol was occurring. At that time being editor in chief of the university newspaper, he was loathe to give it up, and so the paper continued with him secretly on board, signing his pieces as simply Seuss. Upon his graduation, he began using DR. as an addition to his pseudonym.
He wrote many humourous illustrated articles for popular American magazines of the day, such as the Saturday Evening Post, and during the Great Depression earned his living as an ad man. His work for Flit (a bug spray) became famous with people using it as a catchphrase, thus guranteeing his place in the advertising world. It was not until 1937 that he wrote his first children’s book. It is said that the rythym of the engines upon a ship he was traverlling upon inspired the cadence for his book, And to Think I Saw it upon Mulberry Street, which provided a later blueprint for books yet to come. During WW II he began doing political cartoons, culminating in his joining the Army in 1947 as commander of their First Motion Picture Unit. He is credited with several training films, a few documentaries of note, and a propaganda film that had peacetime in Germany after the war as its subject.
Perhaps his greatest achievement came after the war, however. In 1954, Life magazine did a report on childhood illiteracy, resulting in the forward thinking actions of Seuss’ publisher. They drew up a list of 250 keywords, and challenged Seuss to use ONLY those words in a story. The result was the famed “Cat in the Hat” and was the start of the Beginner Books. Later, being challenged to write a story with only 50 words, he again succeeded with the beloved classic Green Eggs and Ham. And so it was that the the I can Read imprint of Beginner Books began. The books by Seuss and other authors under the imprint made reading fun, and the use of keywords and phonics have made these popular choices for parents and teachers around the world. It should be noted that these books of Seuss’ are written in poetic meter, and they are properly read in a rhythm. Currently the books are released with colour coded spines or backs so that adults may easily choose the correct reading level, and there is even a book available that discusses on how to use the works of Dr Seuss as an actual reading programme and as enrichment for other learning topics (I have to say, we used the books as readers this way with great success). The zany drawings and fantastical creatures and situtaions that are typical of Seuss continue to have broad appeal to children, and no doubt will for many generations. It is an irony perhaps that the man who dedicated so many years of his life improving the quality of literacy for children and thereby the subsequent quality of life for so many, himself died childless at the age of 87.
Green Eggs and Ham is a very simple story. Sam whizzes by a furry fellow on a chair and invites him to sample some green eggs and ham. The fellow refuses, and Sam is most insistent, going through all sorts of bizarre scenarios to see what it would take to get him to try the dish. Finally, out of exasperation, the furry fellow tries them and is surprised to find he DOES like the dish after all. The overall message is one of trying new things before dismissing them as things we do not like.
The illustrations are large, and the text is a good size. The simplified language makes it easy for any just beginning to read child to read with success on their own; containing only 50 words. They are basic vocabulary and most are phonetically related. The pictures themselves also give clues as to what the text is, providing a clue to children who may be hesitant on pronunciations.
~~~My children’s thoughts~~~
My eldest daughter read this book as her first “all by myself book” and was successful straight off. This gave her amazing confidence as she had heretofore assumed she could only read books she had had help with, either previously in a classroom (before home ed), or with me hovering nearby. So much did she enjoy her own show of prowess, and find the story hilarious, that she repeatedly reads this story to her younger brother. He in turn gets the giggles everytime it is read.
It ahs also had a positive impact on their eating habits. They became more willing to try “odd” looking foods and relating this directly to how yummy green eggs and ham turned out to be. In fact, they asked FOR green eggs and ham as a meal one day, so we duly fried up some eggs after adding a few drops of green food colouring! It tasted the same as normal eggs and ham, which seemed to seal the idea the book planted firmly in their minds.
Asked about their favourite parts of the book, the children the children unanimous point to the penultimate scene of the book where all the scenarios run together to end up a big mess as they all end up in what appears to be the sea or a large lake, complete with a fox, a box, a mouse, a house, a train, and much, much more.
I have to admit to being a fan since 1972. This was the book I learned to read with when I myself was 3 ½ years old along with Hop on Pop. I went on to become a die hard Seuss fan, so it is perhaps not so surprising I buy these for my children. I appreciate the humour, the positive messages, and the way the books build upon vocabulary. The poetic meter in the book has also made learning to read aloud with a rhythm a more natural occurrence, and my daughter can now read prose without that “drone” and she is not quite 6. It also has made a good introduction to narrative poetry, and provided a springboard to other child appropriate poetry. Because of these credentials, I am giving this a full five star rating.
The book is widely available at most high street book retailers for £4.99 in its most common paperback form. It is also available online from tesco, Amazon, and Play.com for roughly the same price. Amazon occasionally include the book in various special offers aswell. The book is also available in electronic format for the PC, priced at £4.99 by Amazon. We also have this version, and the child can be read to, or read it themselves. The pictures from the book animate and there are surprises when you click on the pictures. A Spanish version is also for sale on Amazon, priced at £4.95. Also on Amazon, there is a version with the paperback book in English, as well as a CD narration, priced at £9.99. So many versions, so easily and cheaply available., it is no trouble at all to locate a copy to buy.
Summary: Sam teaches a lesson on trying new things before dismissing them