Monday, October 17, 2011

Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets

Title: Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played With Puppets
Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher 
Publisher: Random House 
Publication Date: August 2011 
Genre/Format: Biography/Picture Book 
Summary: A look at how Jim Henson made his dreams come true and brought our favorite Muppets to life. 
What I Think: First of all, I'm a huge Sesame Street and Muppets fan. I've loved them since I was a kid and now get to watch them with my own kiddos. Peanut loved Elmo when he was younger and Little Bean has just gotten been introduced to Elmo and now we hear Elmo all day - except he says, "Melmo!" He loves him. There is something so endearing about that little guy. (On a random note, have you ever seen Kevin Clash who performs Elmo? You have to Google/YouTube him because it's crazy to see who is the voice and personality behind that lovable monster.)

Now for the book! I have read Krull's biography of Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) that has a very similar feel to it. I love how it tells about each man's life but it reads very much like a story. They might not be the perfect books to use if you're writing a book report but I have used them to talk about biography and to point out that they are about a real person's life written by another person. This book is a great way to introduce students to biography that reads similar to fiction and might be more appealing to some students. Peanut and I read this book together and he was so interested to read about the man who created the Muppets.

Over the summer I bought The Monster At The End of This Book and just recently downloaded the app on the iPad. I haven't read either version with students yet but Peanut has had so much fun cracking up with Grover through the story. If you are or aren't afraid of monsters I definitely recommend it. After reading that book, you can read this book and teach students who was the imagination behind our favorite Muppets or Sesame Street characters. Depending on their age you could show a clip of a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street. Kids of any age could benefit of hearing about a job as a puppeteer.
Read Together: Pre - K - 6  
Read Alone: 3 - 6 
Read With: The Monster at the End of This Book and Another Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, A Boy Named FDR, The Boy on Fairfield Street, and The Boy Who Invented TV by Kathleen Krull, other non-fiction about Jim Henson. 
Snatch of Text: "Kermit the frog was ready to go on. Soon came a crabby creature who lived in a garbage can - Oscar the Grouch. Then two quite different friends named Bert and Ernie. A hungry guy named Cookie Monster. A really big bird named Big Bird. And many more.
     Jim worked hard, sketching each new Muppet in the brightest of colors, then guiding its creation. He was the spark behind each Muppet's personality and voice, which made learning - letters, numbers, all sorts of concepts - weirdly appealing.
     Working with all the other creative people, he spoke so softly that they had to lean in to hear him. He would burst out laughing at their clever ideas or say "Hmm" if he saw room for improvement. "Lovely!" was his highest compliment. Or else he'd murmur, "I think it could be funnier."  p. 26
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository  
Writing Prompts: Design your own Muppet character and then write an expository essay to explain physical and personality traits. 
Topics Covered: Childhood, Growing Up, Recent Past, Friendship, Family, Careers, Imagination, Dreams, Puppetry, TV, Movies 
Translated to Spanish: No


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