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Big Bird's Busy Book

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Busybook
Written by Michael Frith and Sharon Lerner, special material by Emily Perl Kingsley and Nina B. Link
Illustrator Mel Crawford, A. Delaney, Michael Frith, Dave Gantz, Jon McIntosh, Joseph Mathieu, Caroll Spinney, with Carla Bauer and Carol Nicklaus
Published 1975
Publisher Random House
Series Sesame Street Storybooks
ISBN 0394849042

Big Bird's Busy Book is a 96-page book of activities and stories featuring the Sesame Street cast. Published in 1975, this is a good example of the level of work the Sesame producers would put into the tie-in books and records in the early '70s.

Michael Frith, who would soon join the Muppets team, was the co-author and guiding spirit of the Busy Book. This is the last of Frith's annual series of large-format Sesame Street Storybooks for Random House, following The Sesame Street Storybook (1971), Gordon of Sesame Street Storybook (1972), The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook (1973) and The Sesame Street ABC Storybook (1974). Each of the five books brings together a variety of writers and illustrators, creating a diverse anthology that's unlike anything published in recent years.

For this book, Frith drew the cover, and he also illustrated the recurring series of Cookie Monster's cookie recipes. He also contributed some illustrated stories -- "A Very Old Shape Story" (by Nina B. Link) with Bob telling a story about Caveman Ernie, "Sam the Shoemaker" with Sam the Robot and Maria, and "A Happy-Sad-Happy-Sad-Happy Story," another Bob story featuring Herry Monster. He also drew a one-page activity segment, "Susan's Body Parts Puzzle."

Mel Crawford contributed a number of comics stories in his distinctive, cartoony style, including a series of Sherlock Hemlock stories: "The Case of the Hidden Squares," "The Mystery of the Missing Alphabet," "The Case of the Missing Caterpillar," "What's Missing?" and "The Case of the Lost Lunch." Crawford also had an affection for Ernie, who was featured in the rest of his contributions. The shifty salesman Lefty tries to shake him down in "Ernie and the Letter M" and "Ernie Buys a 12," Bert gets exasperated in "Shape Pictures," "Bert's 10 Collections," and "Ernie's Guessing Game," and Ernie appears solo in the maze activity "Fire! Fire!"

A. Delaney illustrates a number of poems in the volume: "Snuffie Learns the Alphabet" [sic], "My Favorite Shape," "A Rain Poem," "Big Bird's Colors," "When I Grow Up," "I Used to be Afraid," "Ankle, Shoulder, Knee," and "Tall and Short Poem." Delaney also contributed "The Story of Princess Ruby," "Grover's Neighborhood Games," and "Big Bird's Beak Breakers."

Dave Gantz contributed a series of crafts pages, featuring Oscar the Grouch and Betty Lou making beautiful (or yucky) crafts out of trash: "Grouch Alphabet Book," "The Grouch Garbage Mobile," "Oscar's Trash Can Crayon Holder," "A Grouch-O-Phone!", "Oscar's Bad-Time Junk-Band (featuring Little Jerry and the Monotones)," "Oscar's Bowling Contest," and "Oscar's Grouch Puppets."

Jon McIntosh provided a two-page comics story, "It's the Letter Game!" featuring Guy Smiley, Herry Monster and Granny Fanny Nesselrode; the one-page Roosevelt Franklin activities "Guess What I Found" (one for shapes and a second round for colors) and "Hot and Cold;" a one-page Guy Smiley game called "Rainbow Race;" and "Shape Cut-Outs," featuring David.

Joe Mathieu contributed a few activity pages: "Build a Better Bird Feeder," "Ernie Plants a Garden," "The Amazing Mumford's Amazing Color Trick," "Bert's Box Town Neighborhood," and "Ernie's Mixed-Up Friends."

Caroll Spinney also contributed a few pages to the book: "Crafts for All Seasons," "The People in Your Neighborhood," "Luis's Fingerprint Pictures," and "Front and Back Masks." This book and How to Be a Grouch (1976) are Spinney's only Sesame books.

Of the five Random House anthologies, Big Bird's Busy Book has the widest variety of concepts and art styles. It also boasts an impressive cast, featuring just about every character on the show at that time. In addition to the obvious main cast -- Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Oscar and Grover -- the book also features a large number of secondary characters, including Roosevelt Franklin, The Count, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Lefty, Betty Lou, Sherlock Hemlock, Little Bird, Guy Smiley, Herry Monster, Granny Fanny Nesselrode, Sam the Robot, Smart Tina, Hard Head Henry Harris, Baby Breeze, Twiddlebugs, Prince Charming, Harvey Kneeslapper, Grover's Mommy, Little Jerry and the Monotones, Biff, The Amazing Mumford and even The Mudman. The human cast is also represented, with Bob, David, Maria, Susan, Gordon, Luis and Mr. Hooper all making appearances.

Sixteen pages in the middle are printed in full color. In the rest of the book, the art and photographs are in black and white, with one color used as an accent on each two-page spread.

Many of the stories and activities from this book were reprinted later in The Sesame Street Library and The Sesame Street Treasury series.

See also

Sesame Street Storybooks

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