I am Jim Henson
by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017
Several generations have been raised on Sesame Street and Jim Henson’s Muppets and this book is a delight to learn about what experiences Jim had as a child that helped shape him to create the highly successful M
uppets. Jim was one of author Brad Meltzer’s childhood heroes and readers will note an extra boost of energy woven throughout the biography.
Jim was raised in a family of jokesters, art creators, and with a grandmother who encouraged his storytelling. One of his favorite radio comedians was ventriloquist, Edgar Bergen. Jim badgered his parents until they got a television, which opened his world to live shows. As a teen, he decided he wanted to work in television and visited all his local TV stations to get hired. Soon after that, one station looked for a puppeteer. He’d never used a puppet before, but created one and the station gave him a chance. Although the show was cancelled, Jim was hooked and created more puppets, including a frog he named Kermit. Then one day two TV producers offered him an opportunity to create puppet characters for a new show targeting children of families that didn’t have a lot of opportunities. And on November 10, 1969, their first episode of Sesame Street aired and was a smash hit.
Wonderfully inspiring book, especially for creative children. Both children and adults will enjoy the book.
Written in poems, readers learn how Ezra Jack Keats bravely pioneered books in 1962 about African-American kids’ experience in the city. Born of poor Jewish immigrant parents, Ezra faced prejudice early. Drawn to be an artist, his father supported Ezra’s interests as much as he could with leftover paints. Just when Ezra managed to get a scholarship for college, his dad died, and he had to earn a living to support his family. Enlisting in the Air Force for World War II, he made posters, booklets, charts, maps and art. After the war, he returned to the same prejudices and decided to rearrange his name. After he successfully illustrated a couple children’s books, the editors invited him to write and illustrate his own story. He created a story of Peter, a ‘brown-sugar boy’. In 1962, his book, The Snowy Day, led to six others.
The book takes you down a delightful lane sharing how Ezra came to do his books and how much kids enjoyed them. Illustrations used are similar to Ezra Jack Keats style. A great reminiscent look down memory lane for parents, a great introduction to a writer/artist for children.