F O L K L O R E
C H I L D R E N S' B O O K S
P O E T R Y
This story is part of the Seuss legend. Not long after The Cat in the Hat was published, Ted had lunch with his friend and editor Bennett Cerf, who bet Ted fifty dollars that he couldn’t write a beginning reader using just fifty different words. (Ted had used 236 different words in The Cat in the Hat.) Ted accepted the bet on the condition that he could choose those fifty words himself. Ted won the bet by writing Green Eggs and Ham.
Here are the fifty words. With the exception of anywhere, each word has just one syllable. Dr. Seuss used the word "not" 82 times, and the word "I" 82 times.
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.
Challenge for readers: Did Dr. Seuss write Green Eggs and Ham in the same meter (rhythm) as The Cat in the Hat? See Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4Kids if you need help.
I am an author and folklorist based in Portland, Oregon.
Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote 'The Cat in the Hat"
(Random House, 2017). Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.
*Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Kirkus.
The Great Dictionary Caper, illustrated by Eric Comstock (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster, 2018)
**Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.
Wild About Books, illustrated by Marc Brown. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2004). New York Times Bestseller, ALA Notable Book, and winner of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award.