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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Sesame Street Treasury

Today's Saturday Smorgasbord is going to feature not one, not two, but FIFTEEN different books.

And, right off the bat, I know what you're saying. What kind of a book series contains fifteen different books? Not even Harry Potter and the Twilight series ran for fifteen books combined!

Don't you fret though. Although this blog entry will be featuring fifteen volumes of the same series, I will not be making this blog entry fifteen different pages. Trust me, I don't have the time to make that happen this weekend! But what I can promise you is that I will be featuring a blog entry that has quite a lot of information, a lot of fun, and who knows? Maybe some of you reading this entry grew up reading this book series yourselves and will be reminded of just how awesome it was!

We all have our favourite books as a kid. I mean, I don't know any kid who didn't like at least one of Dr. Seuss' masterpieces. I should know. My mother signed me up for the Dr. Seuss book program when I was in the first grade and I received all the classics from “The Cat in the Hat” to “Green Eggs and Ham”. I think I might even still have a couple of those books. The only book that I never got that I wish I had was “Oh, The Places You'll Go”. That was the one book that I never did get. But, hey, I suppose I could always raid a bookstore in the beginning of May to get it.

Then there was a childhood book that apparently I used to get my parents, two sisters, and some random strangers to read to me a hundred thousand times a day. I made them read that book so much that the whole thing fell completely apart! And, apparently to find another copy of that book now, you'd have to shell out five hundred smackers to get it!

(But, I won't be talking about “Hello Kitty Can Count” here. On retrospect, it's kind of an embarrassing book to admit to liking...but on the other hand, I was only a year and a half then.)

But would you believe that one of my all-time favourite book series combined puzzles, games, recipes, and what was then my all-time favourite television show?

The year was 1983. Although I was only two years old then and couldn't really communicate by way of speech (I didn't speak any words of actual English until I was three years old – prior to that, I was fluent in baby gibberish), but I always remembered being read to as a child, and when I was old enough to read books by myself, I usually gravitated towards books that had funny and colourful pictures.

I think that's one reason why I was so fascinated by the Charlie Brown 'Cyclopedia and the Charlie Brown Dictionary. They had colourful pictures that illustrated what words meant, and how things worked. I wouldn't be surprised if that dictionary helped me enrich my word power by the time I got through school.

(On another note, I really wish I still had my Charlie Brown Dictionary. Unfortunately, those things are not cheap either, if eBay is any indication.)

And, I think it's also why I was so fascinated by this book series, which was released in 1983, and which had some of my all-time favourite television stars in the world.

Well, okay, so most of these television stars had fur and big eyes. They were still stars in my book.

And, they certainly were the stars of the fifteen-volume book series known as “The Sesame Street Treasury”.

Now, here's something that made “The Sesame Street Treasury” really special. If memory serves me, the books were released over a series of several weeks, with a book released per week. And, if you thought that you could find these books in a book store or a library, think again. These books could only be purchased at supermarkets.

Believe me, I remember being a really young kid going to the supermarket that my mother shopped at weekly (which back then was a now defunct store known as O.K. Economy), and the Sesame Street books were prominently displayed at the front of the store next to the cereal displays. According to my mother, she bought me the first book of the series not knowing just how many books there would be, and when she discovered that I liked the first book, she was extremely worried about how she could afford the other twenty-five letters of the alphabet!

But, fortunately, Sesame Street found a way to make owning the books more cost efficient, and they managed to squeeze twenty-six letters into fifteen volumes. So, The Sesame Street Treasury taught you your ABC's, as well as how to count to fifteen. That was actually quite good, considering that back in 1983-era Sesame Street, kids only learned how to count to twelve. Just ask the pinball machine of the era.

I actually like the way that the books were presented, as the cover kind of resembled the way that each episode of Sesame Street ended. You know what I mean? At the end, you'd have a Sesame Street character saying “Sesame Street is brought to you by the letters I, J, and by the number 7”.

Oh, look...check out volume seven above! It also is brought to us by the letters I, J, and by the number 7!

And, depending on what book you had, you would find that the book would devote several pages that featured the letters and number that was written on the cover. Like, here's a story about the letter “M” that was featured in Volume 9 of the series below.

Or, how about we take a look through volume twelve of the book, where we see the Count von Count teaching Ernie and Bert all about the number twelve?

You see? These were wonderful learning tools for preschool aged children to learn their letters and numbers.

But was that all? Oh, no. There was more. So much more.

For instance, did you know that some of my all-time favourite recipes could be found inside the pages of the Sesame Street Treasury? I know that it might sound cliché to have Cookie Monster presenting a recipe page, but the truth be told, there were fantastic recipes for baked goods inside. Of course, most of these recipes required you to have cookie dough from Cookie Monster's own personal recipe book, so I did a little search and found the recipe for the cookie dough online. Here it is, found in volume one of the Treasury.

And once you had the recipe for the cookie dough, you could use it to make the other cookies that were featured in subsequent volumes. Like the Surprise Cookies, for instance. Seriously, try this recipe out. They are fantastic!

Of course, if you got sick of cookies, there were other recipes included in the books as well. Here's a recipe for “Tele-Grahams” below.

TRIVIA: Did you know that all of these recipes were featured in the Sesame Street Cookbook originally? It's true!

The book series made sure that kids could read and write English...but the book series also taught two other languages. In all fifteen books, there were a couple of pages devoted to teaching kids some basic Spanish vocabulary. We learned how to say colours, numbers, animals, clothing items, and other household items in Spanish through the brightly coloured illustrations inside.

And Linda Bove also made appearances in the Sesame Street Treasury as well, with pages showing us how to speak in American Sign Language. As Linda was the only deaf cast member on the series, she could only communicate through sign language, so it was kind of cool to try and learn sign language too. Have a look at one of the pages below.

And, there were also a whole bunch of stories that were included in the book as well. Most dealt with the letter and number that were featured in the book itself, but some were Mother Goose rhymes. And, what was interesting was the fact that the Mother Goose rhymes were taken from a 1981 Sesame Street calendar!

So, that's all that I really have to say about the Sesame Street Treasury. I hope I jogged your memories and I hope that you enjoyed the look back!

NOTE:  Tomorrow's Sunday Jukebox might be presented a little bit differently.  I'll let you know why when I get around to doing it.

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