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Grover's iconic Sesame Street children's book turns 50

ERIC JACOBSON: (As Grover) This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I am lovable, furry old pal, Grover.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

I'm A Martinez.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Our co-host there is a Muppet from "Sesame Street." He's here because both Grover and NPR are celebrating anniversaries. NPR is 50 years old this year.

JACOBSON: (As Grover) Oh, my goodness. Well, happy birthday to NPR.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

MARTINEZ: Well, thank you, Grover.

NPR went on the air in 1971. That same year, Grover starred in a children's book called "The Monster At The End Of This Book."

JACOBSON: (As Grover) Oh, no. We are not talking about that book, are we? Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

MALLORY LOEHR: So I was actually one of those lucky kids who got to experience this book as a kid.

INSKEEP: Mallory Loehr is a children's book publisher at Random House. She says "The Monster At The End Of This Book" was incredibly influential because it was the first time a character in the story talked directly to the children reading the book.

LOEHR: Grover's aware that he's in the book. And Grover is talking to the child as if they're an adult. And Grover is so afraid of this monster.

INSKEEP: Grover begs the children not to turn the page because each page brings him closer to the monster at the end.

JACOBSON: (As Grover) I tried building a heavy brick wall to keep people from turning the pages. I implored. I pleaded. I got down on my knees. But nothing would stop them from turning the pages.

MARTINEZ: Kids love it. The book was written by Jon Stone. And Loehr says it inspired a new genre of books whose characters reach beyond the pages to speak to the reader.

LOEHR: If you think of "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus," giving a child responsibility of not letting the pigeon drive the bus, a book from the U.K. called "There's A Monster In Your Book," which actually asks the kid to shake the monster out of the book - so I feel like this book's success is so exponential beyond the book itself.

INSKEEP: At the end of the story, Grover realizes that he is the monster in the book, and he's no longer scared.

JACOBSON: (As Grover) Well, first of all, spoiler alert - but second of all, after talking about this book, I am feeling brave myself. Maybe I will pick up my very first Stephen King novel.

MARTINEZ: Good luck, Grover. Be brave. Turn those pages.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA & JOHN WILLIAMS' "DEVIL'S DANCE (FROM 'WITCHES OF EASTWICK')") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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