Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Man Behind the Muppets: I Am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer

"Growing up in Mississippi, I used to love to watch birds. I even made my own book where I listed every bird I saw and added my own drawing.

Wanna know what else I loved? Laughing."

Youngsters may not know who Jim Henson was, but they know who the Muppets are, especially Kermit the Frog, Cookie Monster, and Elmo. Brad Meltzer's little mini bio, I am Jim Henson (Ordinary People Change the World) (Dial Books, 2017) give preschool and primary graders both a look at the creator of those iconic characters of Sesame Street fame and the genre of the biography as well.

This little book describes Henson as a kid who loved movies and funny cartoons, who loved to draw and make things, a kid whose grandparents were the always willing to play audience for his performances and introduced him to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy. And when the Hensons got a television set, young Hensen delighted in the comedy of Sid Caesar and Ernie Kovacs and the early television puppet show "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie," so it was no surprise that as a young man, Hensen made his way into television as a puppeteer.

Henson got his first shot at the big time as the warm-up for the early "Tonight" show, and soon Kermit and Company were drafted to teach letters, numbers, and life skills to the tots of the television age, and the rest--The Count, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, and all--is history. Jim Henson was a talented guy who embraced his inner nerd and created a whole world of inventive puppets who are still "making magic" and teaching kids what they need to know.

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