Tuesday March 16th, 2010


greeneggsandhamAfter publishing Alexander Nazaryan’s interview with Donald Pease, whose new book is a look at the life and work of Dr. Seuss, I became curious. I wondered if any Seuss book had gotten one-star reviews on Amazon. The vast majority of people love him, but surely there are souls out there who can’t stand him? Well, there are a few, but most are simply the conspiratorial type, like the person who says Horton Hears a Who is really about abortion, or the over-parenting type, like the person who argues that Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has “no sense of family, love, or other type of support.” But the blue-ribbon review is for Green Eggs and Ham. It’s impossible to tell if it’s in earnest or not, but it’s pretty great either way. The headline is “I shudder at the message this story sends to our children.” And the review:

If you’re searching for a literary example of peer pressure, look no further than Dr. Seuss’s subtly horrifying Green Eggs and Ham. The “hero” of this tale, Sam-I-Am, spends the entirety of the book trying to force green eggs and ham upon a nameless skeptic. The “villain” turns down the offer several times, but Sam-I-Am persists, going so far as to follow him home in order to make him try the green eggs and ham. He uses several textbook methods of peer pressure, including the famous, “You’ll never know that you don’t like it if you don’t try it.” He refuses to respect the man’s right to say no, and badgers him incessantly until he caves under the pressure.

What disgusts me most about the end of the story is that once the man tries the green eggs and ham, he loves them and is simply another addition to a pool of addicts. Dr. Seuss’s tragic allegory for the rising drug use among young people that plagued his time period is brilliant, but certainly not appropriate for young children. Sam-I-Am is too easily twisted to become a hero, opening the antagonist’s mind to new things, rather than a metaphor for Satan as I believe was originally intended.

In conclusion, do not read this book to your children unless you are willing to explain to them that people like Sam-I-Am should be avoided at all costs, and that they should never follow the path of the story’s antagonist.