This one was a toughie, because I prefer books that make me think or drag me all over the place emotionally to ones that leave me with a big ol’ smile. When I want some feel-good entertainment, I watch a movie (don’t get me started on movies with sad endings, MILLION DOLLAR BABY).
However, there is one book on my shelf that leaves me with a big ol’ grin every time I read it (and sometimes when I just glance at it). It is non-fiction, an in-depth look at the development of one of the things I love most in the world.
I frickin’ love Sesame Street. I like the Muppets well enough, Fraggle Rock is great, Labyrinth is one of my top two favorite movies of all time, but most of all I love Sesame Street. More than I love Harry Potter, even. More than I love italics! No matter how sardonic my humor can get, at heart I am an idealist. Sesame Street was a concerted effort by a bunch of talented and engaged people to make a positive difference in the world. And it worked.
This book starts with the very root of Sesame Street, before Jim Henson and his whimsical puppets came along. The author follows the development of the program from the mere kernel of an idea generated by concerned parents at a dinner party, delving into the history of the key players to discover how each wound up in the right place at the right time to be part of it all, to Sesame Workshops current efforts to develop culturally-based Pre-K programming in countries around the world. The narrative is cohesive and well-paced, peppered with quotes and anecdotes that keep it from becoming a dull timeline. Personality conflicts and differing opinions on the purpose of the show are presented in an unbiased manner that clarifies how they influenced the program.
It’s just a great book about a great thing that some great people did. A thing that continues to impact our world today, making it a happier and more tolerant place full of people who know their ABCs and 123s.