Friday, February 13, 2009

Sesame Street Connection to Children's Literature

Here I am, reading Street Gang, the Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis, (New York: Viking, 2008), when what to my wondering eyes appear on page 339 but a statement that "writer- animator Mo Willems proposed that "Elmo could exist within a computer generated universe...looking like a child's squiggly crayon drawing come to life.")

Oh- My- Heavens.
One of the stars of children's literature worked on THE Major television program for kids -- and was responsible for the look of one of the most famous segments in Sesame Street of all time!

Here I was, trudging through this book (itching to rewrite some of the more awkward sentences in it -- that editors leave in adult books but would never forgive in children's books), wondering why the Sesame Street that my grandkids watch is so different from the show my first batch of kids watched -- and here I find out that Mo is one of the people responsible for the new look. (He's not responsible for the reasons they had to find a new look -- Barney is. Go read it for yourself and see.)

For those of you who are living in worlds not related to children's literature, Mo Willems keeps winning awards for a variety of his children's books. This month another of his Elephant and Piggy books garnered him his second Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Award. (He already has an ALA Caldecott honor award for his Knuffle Bunny : a cautionary tale.)

The other reason I picked up the book is that I'm always interested in reading about Kevin Clash -- the guy who brings Elmo to life.

Many years ago I worked as a librarian in the area of Maryland where Kevin grew up. I remember this boy who would bring his puppets to the library to give puppet shows. (scheduled for a half hour, it was difficult to convince him to stop after an hour had passed) I keep reading books about Sesame Street and about Kevin to see if he ever mentions performing at our library, but nope. One book about him mentioned his performing at the Baltimore City libraries, but no mention of his local Turner Station library or the nearby North Point one in the county that surrounds the city. (a different library system entirely)

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