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  • Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets
  • Elizabeth Bush
Krull, Kathleen. Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets; illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Random House, 2011. 36p. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-95721-5 $19.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-85721-8 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-978-0-375-98914-8 $16.99 R Gr. 3–4.

Krull knows her audience and strikes the right balance in this picture book biography, offering just enough cool facts about Henson himself and then getting on to his real claim to fame in kids’ eyes—Sesame Street. It’s hard to believe the guy who would reshape children’s television viewing grew up without a TV, but not at all hard to believe that his dedication to puppetry landed him a television gig at sixteen and that he graduated from a college Home Ec program, where he could pursue courses in puppetry, costume design, and advertising art. The real fun for readers lies in the didja-know? tidbits—that Kermit was named after a childhood friend and was fashioned from Mom’s old coat and ping-pong balls; that Henson wasn’t gung-ho to join the Sesame Street experiment, preferring to use his Muppets for all ages rather than strictly children’s entertainment; that Henson’s funeral was a joy-filled affair with bright colors, a New Orleans jazz band, and lots of butterfly puppets. Johnson and Fancher’s paints feature soft stippling that hints at nostalgia, bright colors that are one hundred percent Muppet, and, most delightfully, a number of cleverly angled compositions that reveal how Henson and crew manipulated their puppets. A list of book and website sources is included, with young people’s entries denoted. [End Page 88]



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