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Written by Louise Gikow
Published 2009
Publisher Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
ISBN 1579126383



Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street is a 2009 book celebrating the 40th season of Sesame Street. The book tells the behind-the-scenes story of the show, and profiles the people and puppets who have created this cornerstone of children's television. The author, Louise Gikow, has written for Sesame Street and worked as Editorial Director and creative consultant at Jim Henson Productions.

A smaller abridged version of the book was included with the 40 Years of Sunny Days DVD box set which was released on the same day.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface by Big Bird
  • Preface by Oscar the Grouch
  • Foreword by Joan Ganz Cooney, Sesame Street Co-founder
  • Foreword by Gary Knell, CEO, Sesame Workshop
  • Chapter 1 - How to Get to Sesame Street: The Origins of the Show
    • Episode 4141 "On the Set"
    • How It All Began
    • The Dream Team
    • Rolleeolee-oleeyo! (Jon Stone)
    • How Sesame Street Got Its Name
  • Chapter 2 - It's Not Easy Bein' Green: Muppets and Puppeteers, The First 10 Years
  • Chapter 3 - The People in your Neighborhood: The Human Cast
  • Chapter 4 - Somebody Come and Play: Muppets and Puppeteers, The Next Generation
  • Chapter 5 - Stick Out Your Hand and Say Hello: Celebrities and Kids Visit the Street
    • Episode 4135 "On the Set"
    • May I Have Your Autograph?
    • Arts and Letters
    • News Makers
    • Good Sports
    • Play It Again
    • See You on the Street
    • First Comes Love...
    • Star Turns
  • Chatper 6 - Happy to Meet You: Muppets and Puppeteers, The New Kids
  • Chapter 7 - C is for Cookie (and Curriculum): The Lessons Behind the Laughter
    • Word on the Street
    • Bean Counting
    • What to Teach
    • Wild Things
    • Breaking New Ground
    • Minor Distractions
    • New Goals
    • Model Behavior
    • More Eyes on Screen
    • Meet the Need
    • New Ways to Teach
    • Using Our Noodles
    • Making Magic
  • Chapter 8 - Imagine That!: Writers, Directors and Producers
    • Episode 4157 "On the Set"
    • The Write Stuff
    • The Process
    • Do The Write Thing
    • Good-bye Mr. Hooper
    • Take Forty
    • Let's Work Together
    • Writing for Yuks
    • Now I Know My ABCs
  • Chapter 9 - Over, Under, Around & Through: The Art and Craft of a Puppet Show
    • Episode 4161 "On the Set"
    • A Side of Silly
    • Making Muppets
    • Performing Puppets
    • Stone's Street
    • Yesterday's 'Hood
    • Let's Move
    • Century 21
    • Props and Scenic
    • Building on Up
    • Reconstruction Era
  • Chapter 10 - What's The Name of That Song?: Music, Composers, and Lyrics
  • Chapter 11 - I Believe in Little Things: Animation and Live-Action Films
    • Episodes – From Ladybugs to Fairies
    • Animated Faces
    • All That Jazz
    • Control Room
    • Mini Movies
    • Film Makers
  • Chapter 12 - We Are All Earthlings: the Longest Street in the World
    • 6°09' South 106°49' East
    • Street to Strasse
    • The New World
    • Across the Pond
    • Small World
    • Global Reach
    • The Rim & Beyond
    • Pass It On
  • Chapter 13 - Because We're Friends: Thriving as a Non-Profit
    • Episode 4141 "On the Set"
    • Play Things
    • Toy Timeline
    • Big Screen, Little Screen
  • Chapter 14 - We'll Do It Together: Community Outreach
    • Special Episode "Talk, Listen, Connect"
    • Early Outreach
    • Road Trip
    • Prison Project
    • Reach Out
    • Just Ask
    • Now and Then
  • Chapter 15 - See You Tomorrow: The Next 40 Years
  • Index
  • Brought to You By... Our Photographers
  • Need to Read

Bonus DVD[]

The book includes a bonus DVD with the first episode and a timeline montage. The first episode is presented the same way as it was in Old School: Volume 1, complete with introduction by Bob.

The following clips are featured, most of which were in the same timeline which accompanied TV airings of The Street We Live On:

  • 1969: Gordon shows Sally around Sesame Street (Episode 0001)/ Ernie sings Rubber Duckie
  • 1970: The King of 8
  • 1971: The Ladybug Picnic
  • 1972: Herry Monster and John-John count to 20
  • 1973: Bob and Maria, dressed as spies, sing "One of These Things"
  • 1974: David and Olivia sing The "People in Your Neighborhood"
  • 1975: Lily Tomlin sings and signs "Sing"
  • 1976: Ernie plays doctor with Bert
  • 1977: Madeline Kahn and Grover sing "Sing After Me"
  • 1978: C-3PO sees Big Bird
  • 1979: "Born to Add"
  • 1980: Big Bird sings "Wheels on My Feet"
  • 1981: Harry Belafonte sings "The Coconut Counting Man"
  • 1982: Teeny Little Superguy
  • 1983: Big Bird learns that Mr. Hooper is not coming back (Episode 1839)
  • 1984: Maria and Luis sing "You Say Hola"
  • 1985: The adults see Mr. Snuffleupagus for the first time ever (Episode 2096)
  • 1986: "Put Down the Duckie"
  • 1987: "African Alphabet Song"
  • 1988: Kermit directs Forgetful Jones in a production of "Oklahoma"
  • 1989: Alistair Cookie of Monsterpiece Theater introduction of "The King and I" with Grover as the king
  • 1990: Luxo Jr.
  • 1991: Oscar sings "I Love Trash" (remake)
  • 1992: "That's the Letter O"
  • 1993: William Wegman's dogs count
  • 1994: Savion plays a rhyming game
  • 1995: "Eating Cookie"
  • 1996: A beluga whale shows Elmo love
  • 1997: Tony Bennett sings "Slimey to the Moon"
  • 1998: Patrick tells Grover that he is the best monster he has ever met
  • 1999: "Furry Happy Monsters"
  • 2000: "What is Friend?"
  • 2001: Big Bird learns that a hurricane blew his nest down (Episode 3977)
  • 2002: Elmo tells the fire fighters that he's not scared anymore (Episode 3981)
  • 2003: Miles and the monsters sing the alphabet
  • 2004: Nora Jones sings "Don't Know Y"
  • 2005: The adventures of little Big Bird
  • 2006: Abby Cadabby arrives on Sesame Street
  • 2007: "Meal or No Meal"
  • 2008: Feist sings "1,2,3,4"
  • 2009: "Outdoors"


  • On page 41, the section on Cookie Monster's origins claims that he evolved from and was used interchangeably with Beautiful Day Monster. However, the two monsters were sometimes used together in the same scenes. It also incorrectly identifies an image of the early, fanged proto-Cookie Monster as the Beautiful Day Monster puppet "shown below in Jim's Oscar-nominated short Time Piece" (which, in reality, did not feature Muppets).
  • On page 83, David L. Smyrl is incorrectly mentioned as being "the first of two Mr. Handfords," when he was actually the second actor to portray the role (originated by Leonard Jackson). The correct information is located on the bottom of the same page, however.
  • Page 83 incorrectly states that Tom was on the show from 1977-1978. He was actually on the show for seasons 2 and 3 (1970-1972).
  • On page 92, 1979-1986 is given as a date range for Brian Meehl's tenure as a performer. He actually left the show in 1984.
  • Page 94 gives a slightly misleading account of the casting history for Mr. Snuffleupagus. It mentions that Michael Earl performed the character for two years to Jerry Nelson's voice, then left the show. While the former is correct, Earl performed Snuffy for one more season, where he replaced Nelson as the character's voice. It also notes that at a time when Richard Hunt was puppeteering Snuffy to Nelson's voice, Bryant Young became the back-end performer. Young was preceded by Peter Friedman, Brian Muehl, and Frank Kane before joining full-time in 1979.
  • Page 97 makes two incorrect claims. One mistake is that Mr. Snuffleupagus was originally envisioned as Big Bird's invisible friend, but he was never invisible (the cast merely thought he was Big Bird's imaginary friend). Also, it's said that in Episode 2096, the cast first saw Snuffy after a scene where they all agree to believe Big Bird, but in the scene leading to their first meeting with Snuffy, they all hesitate to go past Big Bird's doors when Big Bird yells his secret word.
  • On page 102, it's said that a few years after auditioning for (and not getting) the part of Mr. Snuffleupagus, Pam Arciero was called back to audition when Brian Meehl was leaving the show, but the same page says she joined the show in 1982, and Brian Meehl left in 1984.
  • Page 112 features a document captioned as "some of the show's guests". Some of the names on the list, such as Keith Lockhart and John McEuen, were in fact not guests on the show proper, but in various specials and home video productions. Some others, such as Lance Armstrong and Tisha Waller, didn't appear in any original Sesame Street content, but rather via stock footage.
  • On page 122, the book talks about the birth of Gabriela, and then talks about the adoption of Miles, referring to Miles' adoption as "later." It's actually the other way around: Miles was adopted in a 1985 storyline, while Gabriela was born in a 1989 episode.
  • At the bottom of page 130, Eric Jacobson's last name is misspelled "Jacobsen."
  • Page 131 describes the wrong sketch when describing Steve Whitmire's first performance as Ernie. The sketch described is the one from season 13 where Ernie catches fish using a fish call (where Ernie was performed by Jim Henson).[2] The actual sketch involved Ernie trying to help Bert catch fish.
  • On page 156, it claims that Maurice Sendak's short "Bumble Ardy" (included on Old School: Volume 2) featured monsters, when it actually featured pigs. The page includes a still of the pigs.
  • The caption for a photo from "Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce" claims that Snuffy and Daddy Snuffle never shared a scene together in the taped (and unaired) segments. Father and son actually share two separate scenes together.
  • On page 165, the 2001 hurricane episodes (episode 3976 through episode 3980) are incorrectly numbered as shows 3177 though 3180.
  • Page 190 mentions "a segment featuring a salesman trying to sell the letter U to an uninterested Kermit". The segment had Lefty attempting to sell the letter to Ernie.
  • Page 207 incorrectly states the "Around the Corner" area was added to the set in 1994, when it was actually added in 1993.
  • Additionally on page 207, the Mail It Shop is said to have reverted back to the Fix-It Shop in 2004, when it didn't change back until 2006.
  • Page 241 incorrectly refers to the "bread, milk, and butter" animation as being from season 8. However, the segment is included in Old School: Volume 1 and 40 Years of Sunny Days, both of which list it as being from season 4.
  • Page 245 incorrectly says that an alphabet film debuted in Episode 2096, when the film in question actually debuted in Episode 1966.
  • On page 273, the timeline incorrectly states that the show celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1990. The 22nd season was broadcast that year.
  • On page 275, Busch's parks partnership with Sesame Workshop is listed. A picture of Elmo kissing a sea lion is shown, taken at Sea World Australia. The two, however, are separate licenses, as Sea World is not part of the chain now known as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

Preview pages[]

See also[]

External links[]

  • interview with Louise Gikow about the making of the book


  1. personal communication between Scott Hanson and The Jim Henson Company Archives, October 26, 2016
  2. Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days lists the sketch as being from season 13.