Thursday, June 10, 2010

Street Gang

Today I'm doing a quick review of the book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis.
Two major books came out to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Sesame Street being broadcast. Street Gang is the first and the second is A Celebration of 40 Years of Life On The Street by Louise Gikow. Both books are exhaustive in the amount of information on Sesame Street. And both books are wholly different. Street Gang covers Sesame Street for the adult reader, and A Celebration is more of a coffee table, colorful book for everyone. I'll review A Celebration later.
Side note... Both books were given to me as gifts from Brie. Brie is awesome.

So, Street Gang.
Written by Michael Davis, (TV Guide, Chicago Sun Times) and authorized by Sesame Workshop covers it all. Literally. From the genesis of the idea of a show for kids mimicking current advertising techniques to the politics involved in public television, to the downfall of "David" to Jim Henson's sudden death, to the reign of Elmo, and it does so in a matter of fact (yet fun) warts and all style.
The good, the bad, and the Muppety.

I really enjoyed the book. It took me a bout a week of casual reading to get through it, and I would recommend it to people interested in television history and production, along with Muppet/Sesame Street fans. But this is no kids book. There are 'dark" parts. Cast member Northern (David) Calloway's decent into mental illness is well chronicled also some of Jim Henson's regrets and creator Joan Ganz Cooney's first failed marriage are covered. But for any bad thing there is you get hundreds of pages of good. If you want to give a kid a Sesame Street book go for "A Celebration" and keep "Street Gang" for yourself.
Since it's first hardcover publication in fall 2008 a second edition has been released in paperback, with some new sections and corrections. Either version is great.

4 out of 5 stars

Top Image - Hardcover, from Muppet Central
Bottom Image - Paperback, From MuppetWiki

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