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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


***The Wisdom of Big Bird

(and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch)

by Caroll Spinney

with J Milligan

Reviewed May 15, 2003.
Villard Books (Random House), New York, 2003.  156 pages.

This book filled me with warm, fuzzy feelings.  No, make that warm, feathery feelings.  I have a special fondness for Sesame Street, having watched the very first episode when I was five years old.  We heard about it from a Weekly Reader issue I brought home from Kindergarten.  Over the years I saw more of it as my little brothers and sisters watched it, and then my own sons.  Sesame Street is special among children’s shows by being one that their parents can enjoy along with the kids.

This book is a lovely memoir by someone who has found his true calling in life.  I was amazed that Caroll Spinney had been putting on puppet shows since he was five years old.  One feels his wonder and delight at the success of Big Bird.  This book includes stories about the famous people he’s met and the wonderful places he’s been.  His own humor and compassion come through as he talks about trying to make Big Bird a compassionate friend to children.  The chapter titles are pithy lessons he’s learned from being Big Bird:  “Become Who You Always Were,” “Pretend You Can Dance,” and “Don’t Let Your Feathers Get Ruffled.”  The book enchanted me, just as Big Bird had, long ago.


Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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