The Muppets have been around all my life. Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, movies, and television specials, I grew up watching those talking bits of foam and cloth. They taught me life lessons and that life could be less serious. With that in mind, I picked up Make Art Make Money by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, a book that promised a glimpse into how this empire was created and sustained.
What did I get out of this book? Jim Henson created his way through life, making informed and interesting decisions all while laughing his ass off. He was always a person god to me, another Mississippi boy that rose from the clay and told stories, but reading about how he made his art a part of everything was inspiring.
Not that the book is perfect. Reading it, you will find a few of the same stories and people repeated. It reads a bit like a graduate thesis on Jim Henson; at times dry and redundant, pushing the points it needs to a little too hard with the same sources. The parts of levity and interesting writing come from the sources and quotes, not from the writer herself. This does help get her out of the way and let the story unfold until she asserts herself into the narrative to make an observation. Possibly I am simply used to reading too much fiction and the jarring elements of expository nonfiction are just not in my wheelhouse, but I found the style inconsistent or redundant as I made my way through.
If you have an interest in Jim Henson or in how a creative mind forms a company, this is a good book to get some ground rules down. For the most part the lessons seem to fall within the golden rule: Be kind to others. Other lessons like retaining copyright of characters and reinvesting in your own work are useful, but seem to only work if you are as successful as Henson was.
Go out and read it if only to appreciate a great man.