Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sherlock Hemlock and the Great Twiddlebug Mystery or The Mystery of the Terrible Mess in My Friend's Front Yard

Sherlock Hemlock and the Great Twiddlebug Mystery
by Betty Lou as told to Sir Arthur Conan Rubberducque
illustrated by Roger Bradfield

Western Publishing, 1972

Eventually, we'll get through all the old school Sesame Street titles I've amassed for the boy, but not any time soon... so to celebrate, here's another oldie but goody from my Muppet-fueled youth. Starring old fave Sherlock Hemlock as well as the inspired Twiddlebugs, the rad Roosevelt Franklin and the lovable but slightly scary Herry Monster. Ten bucks says there is more than one of you out there having some freaky flashback right now because of that illustration of him throwing birthday candles at the Twiddlebugs. Awesome, no? Ah, ain't memory grand?

OK, so, Betty Lou is flummoxed as to why a terrible mess has appeared in Roosevelt's front yard. Enter Sherlock, who promises to solve the mystery...

"I'm glad you're here, Mr. Hemlock," I said. "Maybe you can tell me what on earth has been happening here."

"Aha!" said the man. "Has something been happening here?"

"Indeed it has," I answered. "There's a terrible mess in my friend's front yard."

"A terrible mess!" said the man. "That sounds like a job for Sherlock Hemlock."


And so, the two go through the yard clue by clue... party hats... crumpled wrapping paper... a half eaten piece of cake with a candle in it. Sherlock creates a wild scenario involving Twiddlebugs and their famous jellybean dance and Herry Monster attacking them with birthday candles. Betty Lou is not amused. When Roosevelt finally arrives and explains the mess is from his birthday party (one that, oddly enough, his "friend" Betty Lou was not invited to), Sherlock is heartbroken. Of course, in pure Sesame Street style, after the downtrodden detective has fled the scene...

"Well," I said to my friend, "let's go inside and look at your presents!"

"I'd love to invite you in," said my friend, "but I can't. You see, we were having the party when all of a sudden all these little bugs came and started doing a dance, and then a monster ran up and threw candles at everyone and chased us into the house. You can't possibly go in there right now."


Egads! Sherlock Hemlock was right after all. This book spooked me something crazy when I was little (that look on Herry's face is positively menacing), as did many things Sesame Street (dark alleys, talking monsters and mistaken situations), but in a good way. I find today's 123 stoop to be a tad bit too bright and cheery for my taste. I'm definitely not in the 'Elmo's World' fan club, so despite the disclaimer at the beginning of the Sesame Street Old School Video Collection...

blah, blah... vintage episodes are meant for grownups and not today's preschool set... blah, blah...

... I still let my son watch them. Hey, every childhood needs at least one scary robot to make it thoroughly memorable, no?

Other old school Sesame Street books:
Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum
The Together Book
The In and Out and All About Sesame Street Coloring Book
The Many Faces of Ernie
The Great Cookie Thief
Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook
The Amazing Mumford and His Amazing Subtracting Trick
The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook

2 comments:

Pardon My French said...

I loved Roosevelt Franklin! Elmo has grown on me but it's not the same kind of love, obviously. My daughter begs to watch Old School Sesame Street and so far seems unfazed by the scary robot, but she's still probably too young to get it. And it's probably a tie between the newer Sesame Street and the old school books for her; she loves the visit to the firehouse, any vintage Grover, and Big Bird bringing spring. Pretty awesome.

Amanda said...

Oh my god! This was one of my absolute favorites as a kid. I bet I read it a hundred times. Classic Sesame Street and a birthday party, too!

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