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The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  386 ratings  ·  55 reviews
An inspiring message for all ages: Find your inner bird.

If you’re looking for wisdom and joy in your life, go straight to Sesame Street and heed the words of its most beloved and profound resident, Caroll Spinney, who has spent the past thirty-four years in a bird costume (and a trash can) as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Three decades inside a giant puppet have taught Spi
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Villard
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Sep 09, 2007 Tracey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any Sesame Street and/or Jim Henson fan
A Christmas gift, I finally had a chance to read The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers by Caroll Spinney.

More of an autobiography than the philosophical musings one might expect from the title - this slim book brought many a smile to my face (and the occasional tear to my eyes) as Spinney recalled his 30+ years working in the world of puppetry and with Sesame Street and Jim Henson. Spinney's interest in puppetry began as a child; he sta
Dec 01, 2009 R. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Spinney knows The Secret - living your life (inner and outer) in such a way so as to manifest your dreams into reality. That said...

...was disenchanted to learn that Jim Henson once kicked Ernie out of the way...and when Spinney picked up, brushed off and apologized to Ernie, Henson was, like, "Whoah, dude. You don't really talk to puppets do you??"

...was shocked to learn that a guest punched Big Bird's beak for flubbing a line. And the effect - to the cast and crew - was that the guest (an unna
Spinney is probably the most famous man no-one has ever heard of. He's been on the cover of Time, traveled the world and performed with the likes of Bob Hope and the Rockettes, conducted orchestras, appeared as a guest on every late-night talk show and has been on tv for 40 years. All of this was done playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Spinney's short and very sweet book tells of his early interests in puppets, his friendship with Jim Henson and the incredible rise and popularity of Sesame S ...more
The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from Life in Feathers
Caroll Spinney
Copyright 2003
Villard Books, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group
159 Pages

I know what you're thinking: "Sesame Street, Conor really?" You may not know this about me, but I'm just slightly , kind of sort of really Muppet obsessed. More so now in my youth then when I was six watching Maria, Gordon, and Cookie Monster on Sesame Street in my room after school. I've ever been
I was hoping for far more from this thin volume than I got. I felt as if the author was telling me the entire story from inside the Big Bird puppet, and adopting the Bird's character throughout: naïve and childlike. The only moment I found the least bit touching was the author's description of the scene where the adult human characters talk to Big Bird about the death of Mr. Hooper, and what it means to die. This was particularly poignant because the actor who played Mr. Hooper, Will Lee, had ju ...more
Brian Merrill
Caroll Spinney is a living legend, having performed both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the very first episode of Sesame Street. This way-to-short look into Caroll's life tells the story of those early days of Sesame Street, how he found Big Bird's and Oscar's voice, as well as Caroll's own story. This moving account was well worth reading and I'd recommend it to anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street as I did.
Apr 20, 2008 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Caroll Spinney has been Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since "Sesame Street" was created in 1969. In this book, he shares his memories of being on the show and what he has learned about himself and life. Each chapter is a different lesson, like "Listen to your Cabbie" or "Don't Let Your Feathers get Ruffled." I liked this book a lot for two reasons: first, it was fun to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of one of my favorite shows growing up (for example, did you know that Big Bird ...more
Baca buku ini bikin teringat sama acara Sesame Street yang dulu pernah tayang di salah satu tv swasta. Karena dulu sering nontonin juga jadi nostalgia.
Selain big bird, ada oscar yang tinggalnya di tempat sampah (dan ternyata diperankan oleh orang yang sama), elmo yang imut, mr.snookers sang gajah, bert & ernie yang sering bertentangan, cookie monster, dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya. Bahkan sampai ada drakula segala kalau ga salah.
Buku ini bercerita tentang pengalaman Carol Spinney sejak
This inspirational book gives readers the behind the scenes of the beginning days of Sesame Street and Caroll’s journey to play the role of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. I loved reading about his passion for puppets and the steps he took that eventually landed him the job as the most popular and famous bird ever!

Favorite chapters: “Become who you always were” and “Give it a Month.” Both of these chapters helped me appreciate Caroll's commitment to his dreams and inspired me to never give up on
May 31, 2015 Amarand rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone!
I loved this book! I mean, who doesn't want to gain a little life wisdom from someone who's brought Big Bird to life all these decades? An easy to read book, with a lot of content. Probably something worth owning, so you can go back and re-read it periodically.
Sep 30, 2013 Lani rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who grew up with Sesame Street
Do you know how Big Bird works?!?!? I had no idea until I went to a Muppet exhibit yesterday. After learning that and finding out that the same man who IS Big Bird is also Oscar the Grouch, I couldn't NOT buy this guy's book.

The book goes from Spinney's autobiography (in the context of puppets and Muppets), to Big Bird/Oscar anecdotes, and occasional inspirational blather. But, to be honest, I can take a lot of inspirational blather from Sesame Street. I love it so.

This was short and sweet and c
Kellyanne Lynch
I had the pleasure of meeting Caroll Spinney at New York Comic Con in 2010. He is a wonderful man, and this is a great book. He autographed it to me and drew a picture of Big Bird next to his name.
I read this book in a day or so & loved it so much! This book is written by the sole puppeter of Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch &, holy moly, he seems like such a happy, grateful, average, hard-working guy. I loved learning about how the Bird actually works, along w/ the behind-the-scenes stories about the Street. Each chapter of the book is titled w/ what the lesson is to be learned from that set of pages but, really, the titles are just dumb & catchy & mean nothing. But, man- ...more
Liz W
Jul 18, 2009 Liz W rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any fan of sesame st or jim henson
Recommended to Liz by: no one. heard about it. huge henson fan, so i got it.
this book was written by carol spinney, fan of henson, who ended up working with him and doing big bird and oscar the grouch for years.

i had seen an interview with him prior to reading the book where he equates working with henson to being asked to be a member of the beatles. just awesome.

this book has many anecdotes of his times working with henson, on sesame street, the story of the girl they did "big bird goes to china" with, getting punched in costume by rappers, and he tells the story of he
Really a biography of Spinney.
Mar 13, 2009 Bunny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who ever loved Sesame Street
Shelves: read-in-09

Oh, I just absolutely loved this. As a child who worshipped Sesame Street and wanted so very badly to hug the holy hell out of Big Bird (and just sort of sleep on him...god, he looked so soft), this book is just the greatest thing ever.

The stories are revealing, and funny. Also incredibly touching, especially his first trip to China, with Bob Hope, and the chapter devoted to Jim Henson. That one had tears in my eyes.

What a wonderful, quick read. Highly recommended.
I'm obsessed with anything to do with The Muppets and Sesame Street was one of my favorite shows growing up. This book was kind of a sparse memoir- focusing mainly on his work, not his life- but it had lots of random tidbits about working with Jim Henson, and how the puppets work, and the evolution of the Big Bird character. This makes me more interested in the documentary about the guy who plays Elmo. It's such a strange career to have, playing a puppet, and these guys have done it for decades.
Jamie Long
Jul 30, 2009 Jamie Long rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Like many people in the world...really, the world...I grew up with Sesame Street. I hold these Muppets very fondly, and The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers is a fantastic reflection from the man inside Big Bird. Yes, the title is a bit of a mouthful, but the anecdotes are fantastic. If you have ever watched Sesame Street or even seen a Muppet, this is a must read.
Lori Goldstein
Jun 20, 2012 Lori Goldstein rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Melissa, Mad Scientist, Kathleen,Monica, Sharon, Gizella, Sabine,Jen, Kim
This memoir was written as if Mr. Spinney was speaking directly to the reader. I especially enjoyed the stories he told about Jim Hensen's car in London painted a Kermit the Frog green and the fancy headlights when popped up looked like Kermit's eyes. Overall I liked hearing about what happened behind the scenes of this iconic TV and Big Bird's humble beginnings as well as Oscar the Grouch.
This was a fast and fun read. It was interesting to read about some of the behind the scenes type stuff. I didn't know that the same man has been playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since Sesame Street began. The man who plays Big Bird shares some of his experiences he's had because of Big Bird, and some of the things he's learned along the way.
Caroll Spinney has been instrumental in millions of children's lives as two of the most iconic characters on television: Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Here, he brings his infectious wonder of life that is so well displayed by Big Bird to the page. If you've ever enjoyed watching Big Bird wonder at the world, you will enjoy this book.
I found the book enjoyable. It consists of lighthearted anecdotes and stories from Caroll Spinney's forty years of bringing Big Bird to life on Sesame Street. Nothing profound, but interesting nonetheless, although the title does promise more depth than is actually present.
Jennifer Mcfarlane
A sweet, gentle book with an interesting look behind the scenes at Sesame Street. I also read Street Gang, which is a longer and more academic look at the origins of the show, but this one has more personality and fun snippets interesting to those of us who are puppeteers.
A surprisingly poignant memoir, especially for consideration for young artists -- Spinney's accounts of his work are full of humorous anecdotes on puppetry, but also quiet philosophy on how one may find meaning and fulfillment in doing what one loves.
I actually just re-bought this book for my Nook after reading it years ago. That should tell enough but I would recommend it to anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street. Cool to the the inside scoop on Caroll Spinney and what he had to do to be Big Bird.
learn from the man inside Big Bird and Oscar

a great wisdom that humanize a Big Bird n an Oscar
We can see that they're not just came to make us laugh
but more that that, we can find lot of wisdom, lot of words meaning..
When I saw this on my recommendation list from GR, I recalled reading it shortly after we moved and a little before my GD was born so I'm guessin' 2004. It was an okay read and certainly not as great as I thought it would be.
Jun 22, 2008 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I would have loved to read more about Oscar, but the book focused mostly on Big Bird. Still, this is a fabulously written book, about two of my favorite characters, and the people responsible for bringing them to life.
Really heartwarming book about the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Did you know they were played by the same person? And that't he's been the same guy all along? Me either. I was fascinated.
meh. I was disappointed. The behind-the-scenes info on Sesame Street was pretty cool (because I'm a huge Sesame Street geek). But the writing was really bad. Not Dan Brown bad, but still pretty darn bad.
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Caroll Spinney has performed as Big Bird and Oscar on Sesame Street since the show's inception in 1969. Prior to that, he performed as many characters on Bozo's Big Top in Boston for ten years, had a career in art and animation, and served in the Air Force. He has traveled the world as Big Bird, won Grammys and Emmys, and been named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. He lives in New Engla ...more
More about Caroll Spinney...
How to be a grouch, by Oscar the Grouch: Featuring Jim Henson's Muppets Bounce Along With Big Bird (Golden Books) Scram! Don't Bother Me! Let's Make Words (Play-a-Sound Series) Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street

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“Jim [Henson] had written letters to his five children to be opened only after his death. Brian read from his. Jim wrote, 'Be good to each other. Love and forgive everybody.' I remembered Jim telling me that he never wasted energy on hating anybody; he had too much thinking to do.” 22 likes
“Always start the day with a smile— that way you get it over with. —OSCAR THEGROUCH” 0 likes
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