Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street

So when I finished reading this book, I went online and watched "C is for Cookie," "These Are the People in Your Neighborhood," "Rubber Duckie," and "It's Not Easy Being Green." I also watched Johnny Cash singing "Five Feet High and Rising" with the help of Biff, the Martians discovering a fan, and David doing some disco roller-skating. Mr. Hooper counted to three with the help of chairs, and a baker fell down the stairs carrying three birthday cakes. Being a child of the '70s, I am not a fan of Elmo. I remember when Snuffleupagus was still thought to be imaginary, and when Maria and Luis got married (I know, you'd think I was too old for the wedding memory but I have a brother 12 years younger.)

Street Gang is thorough and nostalgic. It starts with the idea at a dinner party, goes through the first shows, expansion to The Electric Company, the evolution of Elmo, through to today. The author uses a few too many 50-cent words than are necessary, and he could have used a few more dates (it's so well-researched that I am sure it's not because he doesn't have the dates, but that he didn't want it to seem pedantic.) It's a great story with too many early exits in the end. Unfortunately I don't think this author was perfect for this book, although he's certainly done a good job. But my expectations were high. I did learn a lot of fun pop culture trivia, one of my addictions. The most shocking was that one of the actors, who played David, became mentally unbalanced. He was on the road in the off season, in Nashville, my hometown. And there was an incident. He broke into 4 homes and vandalized them. ON MY STREET. In 1980, when we were living there and I was 6. I asked my Mom and she doesn't remember the incident at all. When he was arrested they found he'd beaten up his girlfriend with a tire iron, remembered nothing, and he was committed. Granted the vandalisms were at the other end of our street, about a half a mile away, but it is shocking to me that this wouldn't have been news, at least in town.

Of course stories like this are rare. More common were sweet stories about the inspiration for Children's Television Network and the inception of Big Bird. It was informative, interesting, and inspiring. Joan Ganz Cooney is a wonderful role model all young women should aspire to.


Rebecca Chapman said...

Oh! I want to read this now - I loved Snuffleuphagus!! and Super Grover - they were my favourites. I am going to add this book to my wishlist with a link to your review. I know its not entirely glowing, but I still think it would be good to read.

Carin Siegfried said...

I know I'm not raving about the book but it is good. I just wanted great. You probably will like it better with more realistic expectation. Super Grover was excellent too!

nomadreader said...

I've heard mixed things about this book, and I do want to read it, but I feel no sense of urgency, which means I won't get to it anytime soon. Fascinating!