Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones (a review)

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Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones (a review)I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out for the best.” ― Jim Henson

Jim Henson knew he wanted a career in television. The Muppets started out as a means to an end, but in the process, Henson revolutionized an entire new industry – combining art, design, acting, television, and other new technologies in a new form of entertainment. And it entertained the entire family.

In a new biography, Brian Jay Jones captures the life of Jim Henson and recognizes his legacy as one of the great innovators of the twentieth century. More than a puppeteer, Jim Henson capitalized his creative talents as a way to get on television.

As a child of the eighties, I loved reading about the beginnings of Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and all of the Muppet movies. I even spent way too much time last week watching old clips from The Muppet Show via YouTube with my kids.

The book opens with a prologue, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at this magical moment on Sesame Street:

Brian Jay Jones weaves tale after tale recalling Henson’s remarkable sense of what would be good artistically, what would be right morally, and what would make people laugh uncontrollably. After all, his motto on The Muppets was, “It all ends in one of two ways: either someone gets eaten or something blows up.”

Jones shows every side of Henson. He had a tireless work ethic, but he loved lavish vacations. He was a devoted and loving father but struggled to remain a faithful husband. He avoided conflict, but he had endless patience and forgiveness to offer.

Jones (with the help of the Henson family) portrays Jim Henson’s life as more than the man who invented The Muppets. Jim Henson’s life inspires. He worked tirelessly to provide quality entertainment. He wanted to find new and innovative ways to bring a story to an audience, and he wanted to make the world a better place. He did all of those things in such a short amount of time.

As a man who said, “My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here,” Jim Henson’s life truly reflected his own words. A man of tremendous creativity and incurable optimism, Jim Henson forged his own career with determination, creativity, some colorful felt, and a couple of ping-pong balls.

Find Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones in our library at 791.53092 H526j 2013.

About Kelly Wiggains

Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschool mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. She blogs atkellywiggains.com, where she talks about everything From Literature to Living.


  1. Looks like an interesting book, Kelly. Thanks for the review! Can you recommend any other good biographies or memoirs?

  2. I’ve read the book (haven’t yet posted the review on my blog). I liked it, but it was really, really long. Not just because of the actual physical length, but because of some of the nitty gritty details included. Thank you for posting the video! It was fun to watch after having read about it. My husband said he saw it on TV as a kid.

    • I would agree the biography ran a bit long. I’ve found this true for most biographies – even ones I truly love. And yes, the book is not all: “Dance your cares away, Worries for another day. Let the music play, Down at Fraggle Rock.” haha. Jim Henson was a contrasting, imperfect person.


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