24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2006
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2006
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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?"
Kevin Clash may not be an angel but he is indeed a godsend, here to bring smiles and laughter, as well as encouragement, to the children (and their parents) of the world.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2006
"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.
The book is engaging not only because the real life Kevin Clash/Elmo persona is a fairy tale success story everyone would envy; not only because the three-and-a-half-year-old red-furred monster's laughter, innocence, and unconditional love is heartwarming; but also because the book overflows with touching highlights, moving revelations, and simple ways to discover life's complex lessons.
Kevin Clash's life as Elmo is colorful, uplifting, and inspirational. He wrote this book for us as his way of practicing one of the best lessons he learned -- that love works best when we share it. - Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2007
Kevin Clash's book, My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud kept me smiling from beginning to end. It documents the journey that Kevin had and how is parents encouraged him to keep his passion alive as he entered adulthood. This book is filled with life lessons such as love, joy, tolerance, learning, cooperation, optimism, and courage just to name a few.
This book is reminiscent of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham, but much more reader friendly. The chapters are divided to be shorter but are quite precise in what they are trying to teach.
Kevin Clash mentions how Jim Henson, a man he idolized since childhood and who he would later work for, treated each and everyone of his employees as friends. This is just one thing that makes making working on Sesame Street such a pleasure.
Elmo was created as an inquisitive three year old who, because of his joy of learning, laughing and loving, has become a phenomenon with children and adults alike.
He has reminded me to look at each individual as I did when I was a child. Children don't judge their peers or adults, they look at them and their environment through their wide-eyed curiosity. They are so eager to learn about everyone and everything.
Elmo may have taught Kevin about life, love and laughing out loud, but Kevin has taught me that it is just his true nature shining through Elmo. Elmo is deservedly one of the most loved characters from Sesame Street, and it's because of Kevin.
Although Kevin mentions that he and others on the Sesame Street set have had thier failures, this does not discourage any of them from trying new things and taking creative risks. This is a lesson I think we should all learn to do in our life. There are so many good lessons in this book but I think the best one is, "..you can't be afraid to fail, because you never know true success unless you have a flop or two." Another note of a very valuable lesson is that his life as a performer has never been a solo act, "No life ever is." This may seem a simple statement, but it is a very deep and meaningful one. Kevin constantly describes how, with the encouragement from his family, friends and teachers, he was able to turn his childhood passion into a lifelong dream.
This book can teach or remind adults about lessons that will allow us to not discriminate, to tolerate and to know that each and everyone of us are full of courage in our own way.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2006
When you think of the most popular people in the world at this time a few names come to mind, like Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and of course, Elmo.
Before I read this book, I never thought of Elmo as a real person. I just thought of him as most people do--a red furry monster who loves to love. I was surprised to discover that a adult man made the voice of Elmo and made thousands of kids and adults fall in love with him.
Kevin Clash's story is one of love, hope and encouragement. He takes his readers on the journey through his childhood to where he stands now. Who would have thought that his destroying fuzzy slippers to make
puppets would lead him to meeting his best friend, Elmo?
This book is full of simple lessons that anyone at any age can learn, such as not giving up, learning to love whole heartedly, and how to live a happy life.
My respect for Elmo has rocketed after reading Clash's life story. The hand and voice behind Elmo is just as pure, fun, and loving as the red monster himself.
Armchair Interviews says: 30 years and counting that Elmo and Sesame
Street have entertained.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2006
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we would like to welcome Elmo on today's flight," the flight attendant said over the intercom. "Elmo? Isn't that the little fury red . . . puppet? On today's flight? Okay, I need to stop taking all of these cross-country flights . . . green tea, I need some green tea," I said out loud to no person in particular. Then, Mr. Kevin Clash is introduced, and I was kind of . . . surprised. I mean I was expecting a little fury animal - of sorts.
In "My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud" Kevin Clash has written a wonderful book that enjoyably shares the struggles and triumphs of the artist, yet offers welcoming perspectives on how to enjoy the ride. Personal achievements and outright failures while following his artistic dreams to express himself are conveyed in a manner all persons can relate to. In Clash's wisdom, as conveyed through the optimism of togetherness, of taking the time to notice one another, of giving others the benefit of experience . . . life's adventures filled with love, idealism, mishap, exploration, and self-understanding await each of us.
Kevin Clash has been able to share a deep understanding of life through the simplicity that it is, particularly with the children of the world who adore him. Clearly these lessons are not to be listened to my young children, but adults like myself who still consider themselves somewhere between adolescence and the final day you finished obtaining a Masters. . . and everyone in between, surely would enjoy reading the adventures of a remarkable educator and gifted artist named Kevin Clash. Well done, Mr. Clash.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2007
I am, at heart, a child. A bitter, sarcastic child, yes, but a child nonetheless. I love animation. I like playing in the dirt. I adore the Muppets. I have absorbed Muppet trivia and information like a sponge. You tell me the Muppet (even a vague description) and I can spout back the puppet's name, puppeteer, and filmography. It was precisely for this reason that I finally picked up the autobiography of Muppeteer Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo.
Born and raised outside of Baltimore, Clash grew up building puppets out of his mother's slippers and the lining of his father's Sunday coats. By the age of 12, he was making money as a puppeteer, and by the time he was a teenager, he and his puppets were regulars on a local television show. By the time he was 19, he had established a career as a puppeteer with the Captain Kangaroo show and another one of my perennial favorites, The Great Space Coaster. Shortly thereafter, Clash found himself in the dream job of his youth as a Muppeteer with the great Jim Henson companies.
The birth of Elmo was one of those happy flukes. Fellow muppeteer Richard Hunt, who passed away in 1994, flung a random puppet, then known as `Baby Monster' to Clash and said, "Give it a voice, Clash." Since then, Elmo, as he was eventually renamed, has become a world-wide phenomenon.
In My Life as a Furry Red Monster, Clash and his co-author take a rather unusual approach to the re-telling of Clash's life story and the story behind perhaps the most popular puppet in television history. Instead of a chronological retelling of his life history, Clash opts instead to divide the chapters into life lessons such as tolerance, friends, and joy. Using stories from his early childhood, his life as Elmo, and from Elmo's point of view, Clash illustrates the importance of these aspects of life.
In some ways, this unique approach works. One can see, particularly in Clash's retelling of events that have happened to him as the voice of Elmo, how one small three and a half year old with a hyper-active imagination and an unlimited capacity to love has changed the world and improved it for so many.
This is not, however, a history lesson in Elmo and the Muppets. The facts and behind-the-scenes tidbits that are so tantalizing and fascinating to a reader such as myself are in very short supply, and entirely out of order. We read about the death of Muppet creator Jim Henson within the first paragraph. We never really learn anything in-depth about Clash's induction into the Muppet hall-of-fame or how he progressed from muppeteer-in-training to director, producer, and muppeteer-in-training trainer.
The writing is very accessible and engaging; the voice, personal. However, it is difficult to follow the though path of Clash and his co-writer due to some very unusual stream-of-consciousness thought paths that have Clash in one paragraph recounting his childhood, the next paragraph preaching about a topic, and then immediately back to the Sesame Street studios. It's a short work, coming in at just over 200 half-sized pages, and when all is said and done, I felt rather unfulfilled by my experience.
I also had a small complaint about the form factor of the book. Instead of being a standard size, the book was printed in an unusual 6.7" x 5.9" form factor, which makes holding the book open with one hand a difficult process. I found my hand cramping after just a few minutes holding the book open.
Clash does do one job well, however, and that's relating Elmo's experiences to those faced by adults and the world in general. Clash relates particularly touching experiences, including the introduction of Elmo to a group of small school children in the newly apartheid-free South Africa in preparation for the release of a South African version of Sesame Street and his experiences in New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It's easy to see how, in Elmo's life, the ability to distribute love freely has resulted in love being returned to him ten-fold--and the difference that has made in the lives of countless children and adults.
Toward the end of the book, Clash writes
"We go to school to learn--from out instructors, from our books, from each other. And at some point, we begin to listen to another teacher: our dreams. We think about what could be, what might happen once we're all grown up, what we might be able to do without our budding talents or our latest interests. Dreams are fragile things, but when they've been bolstered by the support of parents and teachers, and reinforced with early success, they can withstand the skeptics and take flight."
This, perhaps more than any other statement, defines what this book is about. Though light on the "literature," history, and behind-the-scenes tidbits, My Life As A Furry Red Monster is all about the quest of a furry, red, three-and-a-half year old monster to make the world a better place, one hug and one laugh at a time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2006
My Life as a Furry Red Monster is the autobiography of Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo from "Sesame Street." Kevin Clash was born in Turner Station, a community in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. Clash lived with his older brother George, older sister Anita, younger sister Pam, mother, and father. His mother ran a daycare and his father worked as a flash welder. Growing up when segregation was still alive was hard for Clash, who is African American, but his parents were very proud people and supported whatever their children did. When other young children were running around outside, Kevin Clash was making puppets. He was often teased for this but it never bothered him. By high school Clash was performing on local television shows. After high school Clash didn't attend college, but rather went straight into show business. He was given regular parts on "Captain Kangaroo" and "The Great Space Coaster," both shown nation wide. After these shows, Clash was invited to work on "Sesame Street." At first, he just appeared in small scenes off and on, but quickly rose to the top. Kevin Clash was assigned the part of Elmo, a regular character. Today Clash is greatly involved in Global Sesame. He also helps with casting and is a co-producer. Of course, he is best known for his signature, joyful laugh as Elmo. I enjoyed My Life as a Furry Red Monster. I liked how Clash tied life lessons into the book and was very descriptive. At times this book was confusing and hard to read because it seamed out of order. I would recommend My Life as a Furry Red Monster to teens and adults.
A portion of this book was about the life lessons which can be learned from Elmo and "Sesame Street." Each chapter was a certain quality like love and optimism. It was nice to read about all the lives Elmo and Kevin Clash have touched or changed. For example, Clash talked about going to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and helping to put a smile on all the children's faces. This all also tied into Clash's history. I think a lot about life can be learned from reading this book.
I believe that Clash did a very good job at bringing his history to life. Clash talked about personal experiences and added many extra details to the book like his siblings nicknames and what was stored in the shed in his backyard. It was easy to visualize Clash's house and family because of the description given.
I found this book to be a little confusing at times. When writing, it seamed as if Clash would begin to talk about something, but then drift into something completely different and finally return to the original subject. It was almost as if the book was written like flashbacks. Many stories were randomly placed and the explained as to how they fit in to the book. Sometimes this book was just hard to read and keep up with.
I thought My Life as a Furry Red Monster was a good book overall. Kevin Clash was very descriptive and tied life lessons into the book. It was a little confusing at times though. Anyone looking for a heartwarming story should read My Life as a Furry Red Monster.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2006
I was lead to read this book (from the library) after seeing an interview with Kevin Clash. I am so impressed with this book that I plan to not only purchase one for myself, but to recommend or buy it for any parents of young children in my life. It's an interesting and entertaining book about Kevin's life and how he came to be Elmo on Sesame Street where he was able to live out professionally his love and obsession with puppets from childhhod on. The encouragement and love he received from his family are inspirational and wonderful examples of good parenthood. The book has given me a better insight into Sesame Street as a program and especially Elmo and the special relationship he has with young children and adults alike. This is not a book for children, but I think gives some of the best parenting advice I've seen anywhere in a "show" rather than "tell" way so desired by writers. I wish I had had this book to read when I was raising my children 20+ years ago!