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Jim Henson: The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination

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The ultimate gift for Muppet lovers everywhere, this extraordinary tribute celebrates 40 years of Henson's creative genius--from his best-known inventions to his lesser known but equally fascinating notions for everything from designs for futuristic nightclubs and homes to experimental films. 500 color illus. The ultimate gift for Muppet lovers everywhere, this extraordinary tribute celebrates 40 years of Henson's creative genius--from his best-known inventions to his lesser known but equally fascinating notions for everything from designs for futuristic nightclubs and homes to experimental films. 500 color illus.


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The ultimate gift for Muppet lovers everywhere, this extraordinary tribute celebrates 40 years of Henson's creative genius--from his best-known inventions to his lesser known but equally fascinating notions for everything from designs for futuristic nightclubs and homes to experimental films. 500 color illus. The ultimate gift for Muppet lovers everywhere, this extraordinary tribute celebrates 40 years of Henson's creative genius--from his best-known inventions to his lesser known but equally fascinating notions for everything from designs for futuristic nightclubs and homes to experimental films. 500 color illus.

30 review for Jim Henson: The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brigid ✩

    I read this a few months ago, and realized I forgot to add it (which is good news, because I'm still struggling to meet my 50-book yearly goal!). I was very lucky to find a copy of this book on sale in the used book section of my library. (Apparently it was originally worth like $50 and I bought it for like $2 so that's a pretty sweet deal.) I gave it to my dad for his birthday––but also, I really wanted to read it because I'm a huge Jim Henson fan myself. This book is a really thorough overview I read this a few months ago, and realized I forgot to add it (which is good news, because I'm still struggling to meet my 50-book yearly goal!). I was very lucky to find a copy of this book on sale in the used book section of my library. (Apparently it was originally worth like $50 and I bought it for like $2 so that's a pretty sweet deal.) I gave it to my dad for his birthday––but also, I really wanted to read it because I'm a huge Jim Henson fan myself. This book is a really thorough overview of pretty much everything Henson ever did––from his very early commercials, to the lovable Muppets and Sesame Street, to his whackier ventures like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. There's so much detailed info about the effort that went into each of his projects, and how Henson revolutionized puppetry. There are a ton of wonderful photos, concept art, you name it. I can't stress how cool it is. So if you're a Jim Henson fan, I really recommend this. I loved it so much and I could easily read it over and over again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carmine

    In my daydreams I am a puppeteer/puppetmaker for Jim Henson in the 1970s and 1980s. What an amazing thrill it would be to be a part of the first episodes of Sesame Street or the Muppets. To be backstage at the filming of Labyrinth or the Dark Crystal. This was a fun peek behind the scenes at the very long career of the magical Jim Henson. It sounded like he ran his company with a lot of humor and love and to delight children and adults around the world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin Phelps

    That rating is not a reflection of the content of the book. I love Jim Henson. I would seriously consider naming a child after him (Henson, not Jim). Having said that, this book is as frustrating as it is awesome. I think you're just not expected to read it straight out - it's more of a pick up and flip to any given page to find some greatness. Because it jumps around (visually) with narrative, pictures, character sketches, and boxes of text, it's hard to follow. I will probably return it to the That rating is not a reflection of the content of the book. I love Jim Henson. I would seriously consider naming a child after him (Henson, not Jim). Having said that, this book is as frustrating as it is awesome. I think you're just not expected to read it straight out - it's more of a pick up and flip to any given page to find some greatness. Because it jumps around (visually) with narrative, pictures, character sketches, and boxes of text, it's hard to follow. I will probably return it to the library soon and just buy it. Then I will look for a more traditional biography.

  4. 5 out of 5

    April

    No rating, because I'm just using this as a coffee table book, and enjoying the pictures. It did get me to watch specific Muppet Show episodes, which was fun! No rating, because I'm just using this as a coffee table book, and enjoying the pictures. It did get me to watch specific Muppet Show episodes, which was fun!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Young

    I have to say that I formed an extremely partisan crowd of one for this book. I have always loved the Muppets, and so I was partial to reading the book, but how could anyone not love this book? "The Works" is a huge undertaking, covering the career of one of the most prolific artists since Walt Disney. It has large, thick, glossy pages full of vibrant colour and even texture, thanks to the many muppet faces peeking out of every page. It is just a pleasure to hold, to flip through, anything. Even I have to say that I formed an extremely partisan crowd of one for this book. I have always loved the Muppets, and so I was partial to reading the book, but how could anyone not love this book? "The Works" is a huge undertaking, covering the career of one of the most prolific artists since Walt Disney. It has large, thick, glossy pages full of vibrant colour and even texture, thanks to the many muppet faces peeking out of every page. It is just a pleasure to hold, to flip through, anything. Even Henson and his familiar bearded crew came to look like fuzzy muppets; as we got to know them and see them always surrounded by their creations, they all started to blend together. The text takes us through Henson's fairytale career. From the early days as a cartoonist and puppeteer, making commercials and short films for TV; through the creation of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, which has been seen in over 120 countries around the world, making it the most widely seen TV show in history; to the Hollywood days, making movies like "The Great Muppet Caper," "The Dark Crystal," and "Labyrinth," the book gives us a fascinating behind the scenes look at the work of this genius. A picture emerges of the two sides of Jim Henson: the creative man who always surrounded himself with talented people who saw him as the leader or director who could lend his vision to their creations, giving them shape; and the businessman who controlled a corporate empire based on a mega-marketing and merchandising phenomenon. Peppered throughout the text are excerpts from interviews with Jim's friends and collaborators (generally one and the same) sharing their memories of working with him or knowing him, etc. I found this very effective, breaking up the strings of text, and imitating the collage of images in the pictures on each page, with a collage of narrative styles. It is more than biography, more than a tribute. I had no idea of the extent of Jim Henson's success or genius until I read this book. I find I am fascinated by the stories of geniuses--in any field, but especially the arts. I just think these people function on another level, and it is really intriguing to get inside their heads. This book is all-around great and I recommend it equally to the die-hard Muppets fan and the "What the hell are Muppets?" person. If I didn't already have it, I would have loved to get this as a Christmas gift.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    Jim Henson is one of my most favorite people, ever. He did so much in his life and created so many memorable characters. I believe Jim wanted to entertain and make a difference in peoples lives. He has definitely inspired me. This book is for any Jim Henson fan. My favorite parts about the book were Jim Henson's artwork/sketches and behind the scenes pictures. I also liked reading about his family and relationship with Frank Oz. Oh, and I need the Jim Henson created Muppet Christmas cards. Jim Henson is one of my most favorite people, ever. He did so much in his life and created so many memorable characters. I believe Jim wanted to entertain and make a difference in peoples lives. He has definitely inspired me. This book is for any Jim Henson fan. My favorite parts about the book were Jim Henson's artwork/sketches and behind the scenes pictures. I also liked reading about his family and relationship with Frank Oz. Oh, and I need the Jim Henson created Muppet Christmas cards.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I've renewed my absolute love and admiration for Jim Henson. I've renewed my absolute love and admiration for Jim Henson.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Krysta MacDonald

    I enjoyed this overall. I'd be curious to see a newer version; this one, published in 1993, I believe, is full of detail of the technical advancements and colourful contributions that Henson made to the industry, but it is missing, of course, most of the works since his death, and I'd have liked to see more details about some of the offshoot projects he had a hand in, as well as his personal life. Still, the book was interesting and very visually appealing. Don't try to read this cover to cover; I enjoyed this overall. I'd be curious to see a newer version; this one, published in 1993, I believe, is full of detail of the technical advancements and colourful contributions that Henson made to the industry, but it is missing, of course, most of the works since his death, and I'd have liked to see more details about some of the offshoot projects he had a hand in, as well as his personal life. Still, the book was interesting and very visually appealing. Don't try to read this cover to cover; that was an exercise in frustration thanks to the layout and inserts that split up sections and even paragraphs. Still, overall this was very enjoyable. The images alone are worth owning, and like any good book of this type, I found myself saying, "Huh" and "Did you know...?" throughout the reading of it, to anyone unfortunate enough to be in my immediate vicinity. This would be an excellent gift for any Henson fan.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    This book is an excellent depiction of the life and career of Jim Henson. Each chapter focuses on a theme or stage of his career, and the overall story is told in mostly chronological order (some of the time periods for certain chapters overlap a bit). The author knew Henson and consulted with his family and colleagues while putting this together, and the result is a personal, positive look at Henson’s work and life with plenty of inside details. I also got a fuller look at both early and late-c This book is an excellent depiction of the life and career of Jim Henson. Each chapter focuses on a theme or stage of his career, and the overall story is told in mostly chronological order (some of the time periods for certain chapters overlap a bit). The author knew Henson and consulted with his family and colleagues while putting this together, and the result is a personal, positive look at Henson’s work and life with plenty of inside details. I also got a fuller look at both early and late-career works of his that I wasn’t as familiar with. The book is also a visually beautiful coffee table book, with plenty of eye-popping color pictures and creative layout design. I’m a bit biased because I’ve been a Henson and Muppet fan for all of my life, but I recommend this to any fan of Jim Henson or his creations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Weiss

    Excellent fun book. It gives great background on Henson himself and on the creation of his many astounding works. Given the upbeat nature of the book, it tends to see everything that Henson did very positively. While there are innovative and creative advances to be found in his later works, however, it is really Henson's original Muppets that will be most remembered and probably represent his greatest achievement (an astounding achievement indeed). I wish this book were just a little more honest Excellent fun book. It gives great background on Henson himself and on the creation of his many astounding works. Given the upbeat nature of the book, it tends to see everything that Henson did very positively. While there are innovative and creative advances to be found in his later works, however, it is really Henson's original Muppets that will be most remembered and probably represent his greatest achievement (an astounding achievement indeed). I wish this book were just a little more honest in looking critically at some of the later works and speculating on why they did not work like Jim's creations for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. But that is quibbling. It is a fun book that I would recommend to any fan of Henson and The Muppets, an appropriate apprecation of his work.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jo Besser

    Going in I knew a lot of this information about Jim Henson and the Muppet Creature shop. However, I felt that there was more to learn. I enjoyed reading the information, seeing the behind the scenes pictures and the sketches of characters. If anything, this book made me binge watch a lot of muppet movies. (This is not a bad thing.) Though my only complaint was as someone who read this book cover to cover, some of the captions on photos were then copy and pasted into the narrative. There were a few Going in I knew a lot of this information about Jim Henson and the Muppet Creature shop. However, I felt that there was more to learn. I enjoyed reading the information, seeing the behind the scenes pictures and the sketches of characters. If anything, this book made me binge watch a lot of muppet movies. (This is not a bad thing.) Though my only complaint was as someone who read this book cover to cover, some of the captions on photos were then copy and pasted into the narrative. There were a few times where I was reading and I thought to myself, "I feel like I have read this before." Sure enough, I did. It was a caption on a page two pages before. I definitely recommend picking this up if you're a muppet fan.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Arjun

    Literally no faults with this smile-inducing book, one of my favorites as a kid, and my Dad's too. Jim Henson I think is just one of those geniuses who knew how to include everybody without being purposefully or falsely inclusive just for the sake of it. His heart shines through his work, and a testament to that is the never-fading popularity of the Muppets themselves. 🌈 Literally no faults with this smile-inducing book, one of my favorites as a kid, and my Dad's too. Jim Henson I think is just one of those geniuses who knew how to include everybody without being purposefully or falsely inclusive just for the sake of it. His heart shines through his work, and a testament to that is the never-fading popularity of the Muppets themselves. 🌈

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Chang

    A fantastic book on the wild breadth of creativity in Jim Henson and all the people involved with his work. There's beautiful full color photographs that give context to the wonderful write ups of all the things he's created. A fantastic book on the wild breadth of creativity in Jim Henson and all the people involved with his work. There's beautiful full color photographs that give context to the wonderful write ups of all the things he's created.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karin Carlson

    well-researched and comprehensive - excellent 791.53092 H 398f

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kermit

    4.3 stars Plenty of photographs and information about all of Jim Henson's creations. 4.3 stars Plenty of photographs and information about all of Jim Henson's creations.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve Jones

    Love Jim Henson and the Muppets. Great book. A sad loss when he died.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    repeats it's self in sidebars, also could use an update, needs more tmnt info. But other than that this over 400 page book is so informative and interesting, really fun read. 8.3/10 repeats it's self in sidebars, also could use an update, needs more tmnt info. But other than that this over 400 page book is so informative and interesting, really fun read. 8.3/10

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Jean

    My childhood! I was 11 years old I discovered it in my orthodondist's waiting area, and I would pick it up at every visit. It is now on my coffee table. ❤ My childhood! I was 11 years old I discovered it in my orthodondist's waiting area, and I would pick it up at every visit. It is now on my coffee table. ❤

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Annoyingly awful design. Sometimes a sentence would stop in the middle and you’d have to skip 5 pages to finish it. Good information, but more of a collection of memories than solid.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zayn Khan

    kermit is super god

  21. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    I’m sure my rating is skewed by a healthy dose of nostalgia. Like a lot of people my age I grew up watching Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies. It’s been 26 years and I still remember the Alligator King skit, learning the ABCs with Kermit and the theme song to Fraggle Rock. When I was a little older I found episodes of the Muppet show, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Dinosaurs. I loved watching the Muppet Show with my parents, waiting for TGIF and Dinosaurs and being both scared and enamo I’m sure my rating is skewed by a healthy dose of nostalgia. Like a lot of people my age I grew up watching Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies. It’s been 26 years and I still remember the Alligator King skit, learning the ABCs with Kermit and the theme song to Fraggle Rock. When I was a little older I found episodes of the Muppet show, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Dinosaurs. I loved watching the Muppet Show with my parents, waiting for TGIF and Dinosaurs and being both scared and enamored by Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Jim Henson: The Works - The Art, the Magic, the Imagination is an amazing book providing a plethora of information about Jim’s professional life. There are fewer details about him personally outside the small section at the beginning. The book would look great on a coffee table it has hundreds of brightly colored photos with Muppets jumping around and some interesting behind the scenes shots. The book is loosely chronological, starting with Jim’s childhood followed by separate chapters devoted to major parts of his career. It ends with his sudden illness and how the company managed to survive with his son in charge. I’m sure the angelic picture it paints of Jim Henson, even his failures sound like successes, will disappoint some people. Even with that in mind, Jim Henson: The Works - The Art, the Magic, the Imagination is a great account of the man and of his life’s work. If you are interested in any of Jim Henson’s productions it is likely covered. I enjoyed how each chapter stood alone so if you’re only interested in one aspect of his career you can skip straight to that section. The parts that discuss the people behind the puppets were really interesting. It was great seeing Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney and the rest of the crew throughout the book and reading about how they met Jim and got started in the business. My biggest complaint is the page layout. Sometimes in the middle of a sentence you’ll turn the page to find 4-5 pages of pictures with long captions and side notes. It would have been nice if the page break was at the end of a sentence so you could read the captions without having to finish the paragraph and flip back.

  22. 5 out of 5

    AnyMousse

    Prolific. It's a term meaning "marked by abundant inventiveness or productivity." It's a word I've been seeing a lot of lately, normally in regards to authors: "so and so is a prolific writer, producing a large volume of work over the course of his or her lifetime." In my opinion, this word gets a lot of overuse. Yes, some writers are considered prolific, but I can think of someone else who I consider the word prolific to be a perfect fit. That person is Jim Henson. Jim Henson was an innovator in t Prolific. It's a term meaning "marked by abundant inventiveness or productivity." It's a word I've been seeing a lot of lately, normally in regards to authors: "so and so is a prolific writer, producing a large volume of work over the course of his or her lifetime." In my opinion, this word gets a lot of overuse. Yes, some writers are considered prolific, but I can think of someone else who I consider the word prolific to be a perfect fit. That person is Jim Henson. Jim Henson was an innovator in the field of puppetry. Constantly imaginative, he was always looking for new ways to improve the media and push its limits. What started off as just simple hand puppets became much much more with the invention of such projects as The Muppets and Fraggle Rock, which were known the world over; to such things as Emmet Otter's Jug band Christmas and The Dark Crystal, which were revolutionary in their methods. The huge scope of Jim's work (and achievements) is best exemplified in the book Jim Henson The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination. If you think you know Jim Henson, you have only begun to scratch the surface of this man's genius, creativity and imagination. The book explores Jim's early years working on Sam and Friends and takes you through the rest of his large body of work. A highly informative and entertaining read, this coffee table book is an excellent addition to any Henson fan's collection.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tripleguess

    I like Labyrinth, mostly because it is so different from what one considers a conventional fairy tale, and I liked some of the Storyteller episodes too -- they seemed so well done for something not terribly high budget. So I got this book. Ugh. BLOAT! The book is written with the expectation that you know all about Jim Henson and every work he did, with the result that I felt like I was reading something backward. "THIS was important because it foreshadowed THAT, and since you know all about THAT I like Labyrinth, mostly because it is so different from what one considers a conventional fairy tale, and I liked some of the Storyteller episodes too -- they seemed so well done for something not terribly high budget. So I got this book. Ugh. BLOAT! The book is written with the expectation that you know all about Jim Henson and every work he did, with the result that I felt like I was reading something backward. "THIS was important because it foreshadowed THAT, and since you know all about THAT, you know what that means!" Um... no I don't. ^^; I just wanted to find out more about where this director was coming from. I saw a few episodes of Sesame Street growing up but was never enamored with it the way the people who wrote the forwards obviously were. I actually like Labyrinth in spite of the puppets, not because of them, and could stand to watch it only on DVD because the special effects were so glaringly obvious on the old VHS copy. So I guess if you're into puppets and Jim Henson trivia, you'll enjoy this book. I returned my copy to the library without finishing it, after giving the Labyrinth chapter a good skimming.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

    Wildly and colorfully bright, this book takes the reader behind the scenes of the imagination and genius of the man behind the Muppets. Jim Henson was a visionary, in every sense of the word. His mind was constantly bubbling with ideas about what to do with his life, how to make the world a better place and how to push his chosen vocation to its limits—even though he thought it was limitless. Jim Henson hadn’t originally cared to be a puppeteer; for him, it was just a way to pay the bills. But t Wildly and colorfully bright, this book takes the reader behind the scenes of the imagination and genius of the man behind the Muppets. Jim Henson was a visionary, in every sense of the word. His mind was constantly bubbling with ideas about what to do with his life, how to make the world a better place and how to push his chosen vocation to its limits—even though he thought it was limitless. Jim Henson hadn’t originally cared to be a puppeteer; for him, it was just a way to pay the bills. But time and experiment showed him what a fascinating medium this was. This book is filled with photos, insights, background information and behind-the-scenes information about Mr. Henson’s chosen venue. Tragically, he died too soon, at the age of 53, but his legacy lives beyond him. In his own words, he set out to change the world and leave it a little brighter and better for humanity. While he died a wealthy man, his wealth was generously shared with others. Even more, his bursting kindness of spirit meant that almost everyone who’d known him mourned his death. But “The Works” is about life, living it and enjoying it to its fullest. In that, Jim Henson succeeded splendidly.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gry

    I loved this book, in that it gave such a comprehensive and detailed history of how the Muppets got started and how Jim Henson's work evolved. It is loaded with beautiful photographs as well, which really added to my enjoyment. My only complaints would be that it seemed as if the chapter about "The Dark Crystal" was a little overdone, in conspicuously more detail than chapters about other movies and projects. Also, I kind of hoped for a little more info about Jim Henson himself, but I suppose a I loved this book, in that it gave such a comprehensive and detailed history of how the Muppets got started and how Jim Henson's work evolved. It is loaded with beautiful photographs as well, which really added to my enjoyment. My only complaints would be that it seemed as if the chapter about "The Dark Crystal" was a little overdone, in conspicuously more detail than chapters about other movies and projects. Also, I kind of hoped for a little more info about Jim Henson himself, but I suppose a book called "The Works" would focus a little more on the projects and less on the person. As I said, however, I did thoroughly enjoy this book, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the imagination and art behind Jim Henson's work. It's a fascinating read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    KennyO

    Henson was an amazing man and this book brings out much of what made him so successful. The book is of very high quality with heavy, gloss stock and excellent binding quality. It's not a biography, so don't buy it looking for that. There are photographs and drawings on every page along with highlights of every step of his career including images of his notes and sketches and many photos of Jim with his partners and costars. The Muppet characters evolved through the years and this progression is Henson was an amazing man and this book brings out much of what made him so successful. The book is of very high quality with heavy, gloss stock and excellent binding quality. It's not a biography, so don't buy it looking for that. There are photographs and drawings on every page along with highlights of every step of his career including images of his notes and sketches and many photos of Jim with his partners and costars. The Muppet characters evolved through the years and this progression is evident in the range of photographs included here. A mighty nice book to pick up from time to time after you watch or notice a Henson production rerun on television.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meltha

    Another one of my favorite books of all time, mainly because the book itself is so dang creatively put together. Everything you ever wanted to know about the creation of the Muppets, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, and practically everything else Henson even did (I must find a copy of that Cube thing now), and it's all so vivid and chock full of photos and frippery, and I dare you not to cry at the essay Jim wrote at the end of the book about making a difference in the world. Another one of my favorite books of all time, mainly because the book itself is so dang creatively put together. Everything you ever wanted to know about the creation of the Muppets, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, and practically everything else Henson even did (I must find a copy of that Cube thing now), and it's all so vivid and chock full of photos and frippery, and I dare you not to cry at the essay Jim wrote at the end of the book about making a difference in the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book was written soon after Henson's death. It was interesting to read about his past works. There were a lot of things he did which you really don't hear about. There are a lot of pictures which I really liked. Although several of the inset information was word-for-word repeats of what was in the text portion. That is really the only negative I had for the book. Otherwise, if you enjoy the Muppets or appreciate Jim Henson's work, I would recommend this book. This book was written soon after Henson's death. It was interesting to read about his past works. There were a lot of things he did which you really don't hear about. There are a lot of pictures which I really liked. Although several of the inset information was word-for-word repeats of what was in the text portion. That is really the only negative I had for the book. Otherwise, if you enjoy the Muppets or appreciate Jim Henson's work, I would recommend this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Normally a book this full of Henson facts and pictures would easily rate 5 stars. I even like the presentation, with sidebars and pictorial inserts. However, the inserts would have worked much better between chapters. There are times when it cuts off mid-sentence and doesn't pick up again for six or eight pages! So the poor organization causes the entire book to lose a star, simply because it makes the whole thing so much more difficult to read. Normally a book this full of Henson facts and pictures would easily rate 5 stars. I even like the presentation, with sidebars and pictorial inserts. However, the inserts would have worked much better between chapters. There are times when it cuts off mid-sentence and doesn't pick up again for six or eight pages! So the poor organization causes the entire book to lose a star, simply because it makes the whole thing so much more difficult to read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Parag

    Jim Henson was a visionary, and this retrospective has the story, told in a fun and colorful layout that starts with his youth, through his time as a student at UMD College Park, where he started his first show, Sam and Friends, on a local DC public access network. This and the Maya Lin retrospective take the cake.

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