Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Rating: 4 of 5

9780345526113Growing up, two people had a tremendous impact on my budding imagination:
Fred Rogers and Jim Henson.

Up till around age seven the only TV shows my parents allowed me to watch were those on PBS or Nickelodeon, of which Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street were my favorites. I stopped watching both shows around age ten but I never forgot their powerful lessons. Though, I’m not talking about the educational stuff. I’m talking about the deeper learning: the acceptance of oneself; the permission to embrace one’s imagination; the importance of creativity; the freedom to be me, whoever that turned out to be.

Yet, for me, there has been and will always be more of a connection with Jim Henson. Perhaps because I still watch The Muppet Show, and I still laugh just as hard as I did 30 years ago. Or maybe because Labyrinth has been one of my favorite fantasy movies ever since I saw it for the first time in 1987. Or how The Storyteller rekindled my passion for the fairytales and folklore I so adored as a kid.

For all these reasons – and why I wrote such a long-winded, seemingly off-topic opening – my response to and rating of Jim Henson: The Biography was far more subjective and biased than any other book in recent memory. I suspect many people interested in reading this biography would be in the same boat.

While Jones presented a comprehensive chronological narrative, at times the writing was rather dry. I guess since Henson’s biggest priority was work, it made sense that the focus of the biography was on the business side of his life.

“When I was young,” wrote Jim, “my ambition was to be one of the people who makes a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave this world a little bit better for my being there.”
And he did (p. 490).

Read a sample on the book’s official website.

Highly recommended to all fans of Henson’s work

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

One Reply to “Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones”

  1. I definitely watched Sesame Street as a kid and loved the Muppets so much I made sure my kids saw some of the episodes as well. For me, The Dark Crystal was the big influence.

    When Jim Henson died so suddenly, I felt such a sense of loss. Then for a while I couldn’t buy The Muppets Christmas Carol for my kids, and I was crushed not to be able to share that with them. I absolutely loved seeing my daughter’s reactions each time I introduced a new (to them) show or movie. My oldest loves Labyrinth too.

    Great memories. I’ll have to check out this book. Thanks!

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