Originally published 1/16/14 in Chico News & Review.
Even without The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, or the myriad other Jim Henson creations, the artist’s biography would still stand as a fascinating look into the life of an unwavering optimist driven by his own high standards and sense of morality and decency. Biographer Brian Jay Jones doesn’t force connections between the man, the artist and the art. Instead, through Henson’s personal notes and interviews with friends, family and colleagues, readers come to see the world as Henson saw it. There are plenty of did-you-know? moments—a rocky involvement in the opening season of Saturday Night Live, Tim Burton’s role in The Muppet Movie and the unexpected births of many now-iconic characters—but Jones’ examination of detailed shooting schedules, business deals, and the rise of television, film, and puppetry technology and popularity prove as inspiring and refreshing as the slow strum of Kermit’s banjo. For generations raised on and heavily influenced by the late Henson’s creations, it’s impossible to imagine loving the man and his Muppets even more. Yet, by the time tears arrived at the book’s inevitable ending, the story of Henson’s life served as a reminder of one of many lessons that he taught his fans: For the lovers, the dreamers, and me, nothing is impossible.