One of my favorite childhood books of all time, and one of the first books I remember enjoying, was The Monster At The End Of This Book.
A Little Golden Book featuring Sesame Street‘s Grover, TMATEOTB is a “post-modern” book in which Grover breaks the fourth wall, pleading with readers not to turn the pages so that they won’t meet the monster he has read about in the title. Along the way, he tries to fix pages so that the reader can’t turn them, nailing some and bricking up others. These plans are repeatedly foiled as the reader turns the page, and the destruction of these plans can be found on the subsequent pages (fallen bricks, busted wood planks, etc). When we get to the end, we discover that the monster at the end of the book is (SPOILER!) Grover himself, a joke that delighted me as a kid and still delights me today.
Recently I was able to share this experience with my 2-year-old daughter via an Amazon app called Another Monster At The End Of This Book. This app features Elmo and Grover in an updated, interactive remake of the original. My daughter loved it, and I thought it was okay, but, as with most remakes, I prefer the original.
When I was a little kid, about six-years-old, my parents bought me the entire Sesame Street Library. Originally published by Funk & Wagnalls in 1978 and 1979, I can remember reading through this 15-volume set of books for years and years, long after I had outgrown the ideal “target age demographic” for Sesame Street.
Like many things, I outgrew the books and had long forgotten about them. About a year ago I walked into a local antique mall and found the entire 15-volume set for sale for $2/book. $30 later, I (once again) owned the entire Sesame Street Library.
The books, printed in color, contain wonderful pictures, illustrations, stories, and “how-to” articles. One article I specifically remembered was how to make masks out of paper grocery bags. I remember the article so well because I used it to make a mask! I was delighted while flipping through the books to find the article again and rekindle that old memory.
The greatest thing about finds like these is sharing them with your friends and family. Over the years I have purchased lots of “display only” things that have gone straight to shelves, but not these. No, this copy of the Sesame Street Library went right to the kids’ bookshelf in the living room, where my six-year-old can read through them and, hopefully, enjoy them as much as I used to.
This must have ran for many many years, because this classic skit from 1975 where Grover (Frank Oz) demonstrates the difference between near and far, seems to be remembered by everyone.
I can’t speak for you but looking at this behind the scenes photo on the set of Sesame Street with Frank Oz and Grover really just brings a smile to my face. I may be wrong but I believe the woman sitting down with child on her lap is Sesame Street co-creator Joan Ganz Cooney.
Grover cannot quiet keep up with the uber-talented Madeline Kahn, but it is fun to see him try. I know a lot of people really enjoy the likes of Elmo, but he will never hold a candle to Grover in my book.
I miss Madeline Kahn.