The first book I read in 2009 was Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis and the next to last title that I completed before the ball fell at Times Square was Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street, a big colorful photo book about PBS's flagship children's program. Too old to have watched Sesame Street as a child myself, I fell in love with the program while a stay-at-home parent, spending hours with my daughter Laura in her preschool years. My being hooked was just what the producers intended. Much of the content was written to appeal on several levels to bring children and adults to the experience together. Children learn better when supported by their parents.
It took me a week to get through the 303 oversized pages of Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street. There is a lot of informative text with the many pictures of muppets, cast members, and sets. There are also filmstrips from animations and marked-up scripts to examine. With so much on many of the pages, I am sure to have missed some interesting bits. The layout is a bit chaotic. I particularly enjoyed reading about all the cast members and muppeteers and about the acrobatics of shooting scenes. I passed on lots of tidbits to our holiday guests while they were here. Now everyone knows that Oscar was orange in early episodes and that Cookie Monster gets real cookies from a neighborhood grocery. (Notice I did not say Cookie Monster "eats" for he has no hole in his mouth. Crumbs escape to the side.) I also found the pages about adapting Sesame Street to other cultures fascinating.
Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street is a less critical book than that by Michael Davis; the latter should be consulted by readers wanting to know about the fights with Congress, struggles in the Children's Workshop, and personal problems of the cast and muppeteers. The new book includes a lot of topics not addressed in Davis's "Complete History." "Complete" is a word that should never be used in book titles.
This huge book is worth adjusting shelves to make it fit in libraries everywhere.
Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street. Black Dog & Leventhal, 2009. ISBN 9781579126384