Before Sesame Street and The Muppet Show existed, Jim Henson and his writing partner Jerry Juhl were still trying to find their way into bigger television markets. After finishing up their first television project Sam and Friends, as the foreword to this book explains, they began plotting out new programs and feature length films. One of the programs, a Thanksgiving Day special, never made it to the air. But enough of the original material survived and found its way into comic form.
The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow follows a young boy named Timmy who comes across a group of monsters that speak in music. They help him learn guitar, which astonishes his sister Ann as her lessons didn’t seem to be taking hold. They also cause a bit of strife for Timmy, and Mr. Sump uses them as an excuse to get Timmy’s family kicked off their farm so he can have it all to himself. Rabbles are roused, hijinks ensue, and at least two shots are fired (don’t worry, no one gets hurt) in this tale of friendship and song.
If you’re looking for something to read with your kids, this is a good choice. It has a good message without being preachy, or saccharine. It’s an enjoyable book, as one might come to expect under the Jim Henson banner. Still, there is one glaring issue with it, one that is also addressed by the artist and letterer Roger Langridge in the afterword. Namely, it’s a musical in book form. With music being such a rich experience in the world of Muppets, it’s a shame that we never got to see or hear the songs in their complete version. The artists and designers did a great job conveying the music visually, with bright colors and joyful swirls accompanying the musical notations and lyrics. Even so, it only feels like half of the experience.
Even without the tune, the songs are fun and brimming with the joy we’ve come to love from the Muppet universe. While it is a shame we won’t ever see The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow as it was intended to be seen, we can appreciate that we have it at all. Whether you’re looking for something to read at bedtime with the kids, or by yourself, this title hits all the right notes.