|Written by||James Robert Parish|
|Publisher||Ferguson Publishing Company|
|Series||Ferguson Career Biographies|
Jim Henson: Puppeteer and Filmmaker is a children's biography of Jim Henson, intended for a reading level of Grade 6 and up. The 144-page book tells the story of Henson's life, from childhood to his start in television on Sam and Friends, moving on through the creation of his major works -- Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.
The final quarter of the book is a "career section", with chapters on "How to Become a Filmmaker" and "How to Become a Television Director".
The book includes 14 black-and-white photographs of Henson and his puppets.
- Chapter 1: A Memorable Creative Contribution ... 1
- Chapter 2: A Love of Television ... 8
- Chapter 3: Debut on the Small Screen ... 21
- Chapter 4: Reaching for Success ... 35
- Chapter 5: A New TV Horizon ... 46
- Chapter 6: Sesame Street and Beyond ... 59
- Chapter 7: Fresh Creative Challenges ... 72
- Time Line ... 90
- How to Become a Filmmaker ... 96
- To Learn More About Filmmakers ... 109
- How to Become a Television Director ... 112
- To Learn More about Television Directors ... 124
- To Learn More about Jim Henson ... 127
- Index ... 131
Discussion of Henson's childhood
As is typical of children's biographies of Henson, the book reaches back into Henson's childhood for inspirations and influences, implying that specific experiences from his childhood led directly to creative leaps that he made as an adult.
The most overstated example is on page 15:
“When Jimmy Henson was 11 years old and in the fifth grade, a new boy moved to Leland, Mississippi. His name was T. Kermit Scott. This newcomer and Jimmy became close friends, with young Henson endlessly intrigued by his new pal's unusual middle name.”
This passage refers to a claim made by Scott that he was the inspiration for Kermit the Frog, a claim which has been refuted by the Jim Henson Company archivist Karen Falk. (See Was Kermit named after a childhood friend of Jim Henson?.)
Another passage in the same vein describes Henson's reaction to watching The Wizard of Oz: "Watching this exciting, magical movie led Jimmy to dream of one day creating his own fantasy adventures that would keep audiences -- and himself -- enthralled." (Henson was just shy of three years old when The Wizard of Oz originally played in movie theaters.) In another section, a skit performed in a Cub Scout talent show is described as "Jimmy Henson's first effort in show business".
In addition to the overstatements mentioned above, the book also contains some outright errors.
- The book perpetuates the myth that "Muppet" is a combination of marionettes and puppets.
- The book erroneously gives the year of Henson's graduation from The University of Maryland, College Park as 1958 (Henson graduated in 1960.)