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The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers Hardcover – April 29, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Those who grew up watching Big Bird probably never gave much thought to the person beneath the feathers. But Spinney's been inside Big Bird since Sesame Street's inception in 1969, and he takes enormous pride in this honor. "Big Bird has opened up new worlds to me," he writes, and he shares some of those worlds in this simple book. He tells how he got to Sesame Street (he was working on a television show, Bozo's Big Top, and met Jim Henson at a puppetry festival) and recounts his adventures as the bird, interspersing them with basic life lessons. Some work better than others: the chapter "Find Compassion" tells the pleasant tale of how, one winter night, Spinney helped an elderly man home; yet the chapter "Eat Your Veggies," concerning Spinney meeting various first ladies, is somewhat perplexing. Although the publisher files the book under "inspiration," it's just as much a book on the ins and outs of puppetry. Amid anecdotes on traveling to China as Big Bird and learning how to dance in costume, Spinney shares little-known facts about puppets in general and Big Bird in particular. (Most viewers probably don't know there are no eye holes in the Big Bird costume. The only way Spinney can see where he's going is by looking at a tiny television monitor inside the costume, which gives him a third-person view of his actions.) With original drawings of Big Bird and friends, this is a charming and uplifting book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Spinney tells how he got to Sesame Street, and of the mostly sunny days that followed. The book is slathered with good-humored reminiscences and peppered with pencil drawings to punctuate the story of his more than 30 furry years. In spite of a cliched "if you can dream it, you can be it" theme, this title stands out as anecdotal instead of preachy, gimmicky, or cutesy. Readers who were fans of or even infrequent visitors to Sesame Street will be heartened that the puppeteer giving a voice to Big Bird is, in mirrorlike fashion, largely gentle and very grateful for his experiences with Jim Henson and family. From recollections of his boyhood-built puppet theater, his Bostonian debut playing characters on Bozo's Big Top, and his fortuitous meeting with the founder of the Muppets, Spinney's passion for puppets, TV, and performing is obvious. He talks about taking a sizable pay cut to do what he loves-give breath to the Bird and Oscar-and holding on to one's vision and being prepared when opportunity knocks. Teens on the brink of career decisions, and maybe compromise, will find the man inside the familiar suits insightful, and the stories, especially the escapades with Bob Hope in China, delightfully simple and thought provoking.
Karen Sokol, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Without a second thought, I give five stars to this literary trip. I have already begun to recommend this book to friends, and extend the same recommendation to you.
It's not just a book detailing his walk in the big orange feet. What I really loved about the book are the simple lessons about life. More accurately, what's really important in life. Forgive people, live a good life, and never forget to take time to share love.
I would write more, but I wouldn't want to spoil a second of the enjoyment one will have reading this book. By all means, if you even once were made to smile by seeing Big Bird...do yourself a favor and read this book.
People complained about the size of the book, and I admit, I wish it was longer, but that wouldn't turn me away from it.
If you enjoy learning about "behind the scenes" happenings...this book is for you.
Sure wish I could find a job on Sesame Street!!
ADDENDUM: Caroll Spinney recently gave a book lecture, which I attended with my daughter. He talked about the book, referencing many events he wrote about. See him in person, if you get the chance! He brought Oscar and Oscar is very funny on book tours!