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News In Brief

A 50-year feast in 50 words: Happy Birthday, Green Eggs & Ham

Melissa Kaplan Aug 12, 2010

When Dr. Seuss took on a bet from his editor to conjure up a book using only 50 words, he probably couldn’t have imagined he’d match the success of The Cat and the Hat. But 50 years later, the meal parents have used to gross out their kids at bedtime for decades remains one of the Doctor’s best-sellers and one of the best-selling children’s books in general. Green Eggs & Ham was first published on Aug. 12, 1960, using 49 monosyllabic words (“anywhere” is the exception) and costing Seuss editor Bennett Cerf $50.

It would take me 49 milliseconds to procure a link revealing those remaining 49 words, but you look like someone who likes a challenge. So here’s a link to an excel table with a 5-minute countdown clock. See if you can come up with the other words. If you’ve read the book’s title and the rest of my post you’re already three words in. Alternate challenge: Write a book in 50 words and make it relevant a half-century later.

(And for those of you who have lost touch with your inner child and don’t have five minutes for Dr. Seuss, here’s the link to those last 47 words).

If you miss hearing the words read to you in true storybook form, here’s a link to a moving reading of the Seussian masterpiece by Jesse Jackson.

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