What I’m Reading: It’s Not Easy Being Green

It's Not Easy Being GreenBetween the Street Gang book and the upcoming Muppet Show comic book from Boom! Studios, I’m in something of a Muppet Mode lately. So I dug out a book I got a few years ago, the 2005 book It’s Not Easy Being Green (and Other Things to Consider). This is essentially a coffee table book, but too small to fill the table. A “Keepsake” book?” I’m sure there’s some publishing industry term for a book like this one, but I don’t know what it is.

At any rate, this isn’t a work of fiction, but it’s not a real deep, researched tome like the aforementioned Street Gang either. What we have here, essentially, is a collection of quotes by or about Muppet creator Jim Henson or his various thoughts on life. Using things Henson wrote or said — and, in fact, drew — the book expounds upon his gentle, optimistic, mildly anarchic view of the universe. The quotes are well-chosen, I certainly feel like they illuminate the man very well.

The book also contains a lot of quotes from Jim’s friends, family, and co-workers — people like his son Brian Henson, his fellow Muppeteers Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, and Kevin Clash, and other collaborators like Joan Ganz Cooney, the guiding force behind Sesame Street. These quotes are usually about Jim himself, about what a kind, inspiring, and powerfully imaginative man he actually was.

Finally, the book contains a lot of quotes from Jim’s characters. The stars of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock are all over this book, along with quotes from far more obscure Henson productions, like the 1969 television movie The Cube(which, incidentally, bears a striking resemblance in concept to the sci-fi/horror movie of the same name). Some of these are classic, familiar quotes. Some of them are the entire text of a song or a sketch from one of the shows. Some of them I’ve never heard before. But they’re all chosen to help illuminate how Henson’s philosophies were expressed in his characters — Bert and Ernie singing about how they’re best friends even though they don’t have anything in common; Kermit making Gonzo realize how lucky he is just to be himself… and how could we forget the legendary wisdom of the Fraggle Rock theme song?

This isn’t a must-read. It’s a very fast read, most people can probably get through the whole book in an hour, which isn’t really worth the $16.95 cover price. On the other hand, the book has been out for a few years now, and chances are you can find it remaindered for far less money in a lot of bookstores, and if you can snare it for five bucks or less, it may be worth it. Especially if you’re a fan of Jim Henson and the Muppets. It’s a nice keepsake — yeah, that word fits — if the words and genius of the Muppets and their extended family means something to you. It certainly means something to me.

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