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My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud Hardcover – September 5, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's hard to believe, but it's been more than 20 years since beloved preschooler icon Elmo made his debut on Sesame Street—in fact, Clash wasn't even the first puppeteer to try his hand at bringing the "baby monster" to life. It was Clash, though, who gave the character the high-pitched voice and distinctive laugh that quickly endeared him to young viewers and eventually led to his own spinoff series. When he writes about Elmo, in fact, he verges on describing the Muppet as if it possesses its own personality. Clash's working relationship with Elmo is used as a starting point to discuss basic themes like love, tolerance and courage, but it's the story of his life before meeting his furry partner that often holds the most interest. He talks with obvious affection about his childhood growing up in an African-American suburb of Baltimore, encouraged from a early age to follow his talent for designing and performing with puppets. Though generally upbeat, this is no sugar-coated tale; Clash describes his initial struggles to make a name for himself on other children's shows, and speaks frankly about the toll performing on Sesame Street took on his marriage. (Sept. 25)
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Review

Praise for My Life as a Furry Red Monster:

“It should come as no surprise that the man behind America’s most beloved red furball is as wise, warm, witty, and wonderful as Elmo himself. My Life as a Furry Red Monster is an entertaining sneak peak at the life and times of one of the most endearing and enduring characters ever created.”
—Katie Couric

“I love Elmo and I love this book. What a cutie-patootie. Thanks, Kevin!”
—Rosie O’Donnell

“This delightful book illuminates a man’s journey from child to parent, student to teacher, puppeteer to Muppeteer, and reveals to us who our favorite red furry monster really is—a gifted, humane, empathetic entertainer named Kevin Clash. His book is a meditation on the things that really matter—to Elmo and to all of us.”
Julianne Moore

“In lively and wonderfully written prose, Kevin tells the story of how he came to be the most popular educator and entertainer of children in the country. His riveting tale weaves together the adventures, idealism, love, and optimism that Kevin has experienced both as himself and as a furry red monster.”
Joan Ganz Cooney, cofounder of Sesame Workshop and creator of Sesame Street

“Kevin has given life and breath to one of the most beloved characters in contemporary pop culture. His heart and soul radiate not only through Elmo, but up and down Sesame Street, through this book, and around the world. Not only is Kevin a brilliant artist, but he’s a fabulous human being as well.”
—Vanessa Williams
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition edition (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767923758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767923750
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #930,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Cutey on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When you see furry characters like Elmo and all his little buddies, you often wonder about the people behind the characters. I saw Kevin once on Oprah and he's very different to how you'd imagine (6 Foot guy with a deep voice) - you'd almost think Elmo was brought to life by a female. Kevin has writen this book because while everyone is so excited about meeting and knowing Elmo, but he wants the public to know what Elmo has meant to him over the past 20 years or so.

Kevin (as Elmo) has had a whirlwind of fun bringing Elmo to life. He's gotten to travel the world and meet so many amazing people. He watched Seasame Street for the first time when he was 10 years old and he was hooked by the puppetry. Right out of high school he started to get involved. He has his own daughter and he learned from her that he acts out Elmo based on his genuine love not only for his daughter Shannon but also all kids.

He says in the book that if you wonder what it is about this loveable character that makes him so popular and why he's such a phenomenon; the answer is love. Elmo "conects with children and adults on the purest and most fundamental level, and that's the human desire to be loved. It's as simple as that". And I think he's perfectly correct (even I as an adult love Elmo).

If you have kids of your own or even friends and family with little kids or even if you're just like me who's really a big kid at heart, you will love this book. It's well written and interesting and fun and you'll love every minute of reading it. I did. It's great.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cathy A. Pulsifer on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The man, the voice, and the personality behind Elmo, the furry red monster on Sesame Street are revealed in this inspiring book. Kevin Clash shares his personal success through his beliefs and values in his book.

The book, My Life as a Furry Red Monster, is journey of a child's love of puppets turned into an adult success story. The book reminds us of how children see the world and how often times in our adult life we forget the simple things in life. To quote from the book, "But unlike me, and like most three-and-a-half years-olds, Elmo has almost no inhibitions about laughing. He never worries about what others think." This quote made me think how often we, as adults, don't laugh as often as we should, and the many times we get caught up in what other people may think. Throughout the book, you will find many statements that may make you question why can't we be more like Elmo.

The book is filled with real life examples of both successes and failures written in a story format. Based on a true-life inspiring story, Kevin's book reinforces that it is possible to turn our dreams into our reality.

The book will encourage you to keep looking ahead and not be stuck in a rut. I couldn't agree more with the author's comment, "When we feel stuck or just down, it's easy to dwell on what was and what could have been, but children remind us that we don't grow and that things don't get better unless we keep looking ahead."

Filled with tips for a better life, I would recommend this book for both teenagers and adults.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reginald D. Garrard VINE VOICE on December 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Multi-Emmy-winning Kevin Clash, the voice and hands behind the beloved "Elmo," has written a book that explores the wonders of childhood and the desire to follow one's dream. Written in a breezy style, Clash reflects on his lifelong desire to entertain with puppets, starting as a neighborhood entertainer to work on local television shows to national exposure on "Captain Kangaroo" and ultimately worldwide success on "Sesame Street."

Along the way to stardom among the preschool set, Clash was aided by the loving encouragement of parents, siblings, teachers, and mentors. The author does a good bit of name-dropping for he is truly appreciative of the assistance that all gave him to pursue his dream.

It is the pursuit of that dream that makes Clash embody "Elmo" with such a strong desire to pull out the "magic" that every child possesses. Through nine wonderful one-word chapters, the author gives insight that can benefit all parents as they strive to inspire their children to achieve at their best.

Elmo becomes the "universal spokesperson" for children and their right to be acknowledged for all their unique abilities and personalities.

Though only possessing a high school education, Clash writes as profoundly and intelligently as any degreed child psychologist or educator. It is his inherent talent and understanding that makes him an "expert" that can provide valuable lessons in bringing up one's offspring.

In one revealing reminiscence, Clash recalls a trip to the doctor when, as a teenager, he was stricken with an appendicitis. When asked by the doctor, "Do You drink?" "Do you smoke?" and "Have you had sex?", respectively, Clash responded with "No" to all three. The doctor then responded "What are you, a d*** angel?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ruby Bayan on September 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"With Elmo as my partner, with my family as my inspiration, I've learned that love works best when we keep it simple, when we remember to say it and show it, and, most of all, when we share it."

This is just one of the countless insights and life's lessons that Kevin Clash imparts in his adorable gift book, "My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, and Laughing Out Loud." An easy and enjoyable read, this book is one of the most enthralling of the many inspirational life stories I have encountered.

My Life as a Furry Red Monster is divided into nine chapters: love, joy, creativity, tolerance, courage, friendship, cooperation, learning, and optimism. In each chapter, Clash (as himself or through Elmo) reveals his experiences, emotions, and reactions to the people and situations around him, and, in a very subtle manner, imparts the lessons he learned along the way.

Using anecdotes and snippets from his life as the-man-behind-Elmo, Clash tells us of his early childhood sitting close to the television gaping at Sesame Street characters, and later performing with puppets on stage in the community hall. He shares his awe on his first trip to the huge warehouse where they created Big Bird and Snuffalopagus, and on his first appearance in the Macy's Parade. He tells us of his nervous excitement over meeting and eventually working with his childhood idols Jim Henson and Frank Oz, and winning his first of several Emmy awards.
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