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Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 26, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Caroll Spinney (carollspinney.com), the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch and winner of the Library of Congress's Living Legend Award, here narrates journalist Davis's gentle yet often surprising look at Sesame Street, the world's longest-running (40 years) and widest-reaching (120 countries) children's show. This will be a sure-fire hit in just about every library; highly recommended. [Includes a bonus interview with Davis and Spinney; the Viking hc was recommended "for all reference and browsing collections," LJ 12/08; visit www.streetgangbook.com for a bonus chapter profiling Roscoe Orman, who played Gordon on the show.—Ed.]—Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base Lib., Lompoc, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
From The New Yorker
In this history of �Sesame Street,� Davis writes that when the show d�buted, in 1969, the goal of its creators was nothing short of righting �the inequities in our society� through the education of lower-class preschoolers. Such populist choices as an urban setting, a multiracial cast, and a catchy brand of �edutainment� reflected both the mood of the era (it should �jump and move fast and feel and sound like 1969,� a producer said) and painstaking research: a series of seminars held in the summer of 1968 was attended by developmental psychologists, television-industry insiders, and children�s authors and entertainers (Maurice Sendak endured boring sessions by making X-rated doodles; Jim Henson�s sandals and beard sparked fears that he was a Weatherman). The book�s strongest sections are culled from extensive interviews with Joan Ganz Cooney, who oversaw production for more than twenty years, but the narrative loses steam once the show hits the air.
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As an unexpected bonus, the book includes some mini-histories of children's shows that preceded "Sesame Street." This may seem extraneous at first, but you come to appreciate the way the author is setting the scene. Many TV shows were assembled by people who looked at children as little cash machines ("Howdy Doody") and others had noble purposes but still managed to be corrupted somehow ("Ding Dong School"). It helps you appreciate what a miracle "Sesame Street" was when it finally arrived.
I had just turned nine when the show started, but I remember watching it with my sister who was four at the time. I thought the show was great, the animations especially - but I liked the Muppets most of all. Later the "Muppet Show" was one of my favorite shows of all times (I have all three DVD sets).
The book is a great read. I spent nearly every free minute I had this week reading it and just finished late last night. It covers the history perfectly IMO. I noticed there are a few reviews that drop a star or two because they thought it wasn't in-depth enough. I'm sure that there could have been more information included, but given that the book is 384 pages and covers a cast of people who's body of work spans more than 40 years - I'd say that there was more than enough covered for this one book. Hopefully someone will one day write a book solely on Jim Henson - it would be something I most certainly would buy.