Who doesn't know Elmo, the furry red three and a half-year-old Muppet on Sesame Street who refers to himself in the third person - "Elmo has a question." Elmo's World is aimed at toddlers just like him. On his show, he is joined by his goldfish Dorothy and the Noodle Family, Mr. Noodle, Mr. Noodle's Brother Mr. Noodle, and Mr. Noodle's Sister Ms. Noodle. His puppeteer is Kevin Clash who serves as Sesame Street Muppet Captain, Director and Co-executive producer. You might remember when, in 1996, an interactive doll called "Tickle Me Elmo" came out at holiday time and was a smashing success with consumers fighting over the limited supply. Elmo has also been in the movies, starring in "Elmo in Grouchland" and "Elmo Saves Christmas and appearing in "Follow That Bird," "The Muppets Take Manhattan," and "A Muppet Family Christmas." Elmo has been involved in politics, appearing in "The West Wing" and testifying before the U.S. Congress. Elmo appeared on Emeril Lagasse's show as part of the Food Network's second annual "Cook With Your Kids Week." Today is Emo's birthday and I had a chance to talk with him last week to find out about his birthday plans.

Note to parents: Elmo's new DVD, "Elmo’s World: Opposites" arrives in stores in just two days, on DVD February 5th,

RL: Happy Birthday Elmo! How old are you going to be?
Elmo: Still 3 1/2. In monster years we age very, very slowly.

RL: How will you celebrate your birthday this year: Any big plans?
Elmo: Elmo’s Mommy and Daddy are going to throw him a party with all of Elmo’s friends and family on Sesame Street!!

RL: You have done so MANY things on Sesame Street over the years. What has been one of your favorite experiences?
Elmo: Getting to sing and dance with Chris Brown. He’s a really good dancer but, Elmo kept up with him.

RL: What is the most fun thing that you and your friends have ever done on Sesame Street?
Elmo: One of the most fun things for Elmo is getting to ride Snuffy sometimes and having playdates with Elmo’s friends!!

RL: You appeared on Emeril Lagasse's show and also made a DVD about eating healthy called "A Magic Cookbook." What was that like? What was your favorite food that you made with Emeril?

Elmo: He’s a very nice man and a good cook too. We made some yummy food like strawberry ice cream, dinosaur sandwiches, and pizza. Emeril taught me how to BAM on the pizza toppings!

RL: You testified before the United States Congress and appeared on "The West Wing." Will you be involved in the political campaigns this year at all? What do you think is the most important thing to look for in a presidential candidate?

Elmo: Elmo’s Mommy and Daddy are more into that stuff then Elmo but, when Elmo ask them questions about it they tell Elmo that the most important thing they look for in the next President is how what they want to change will effect Elmo (the children) and if there’s a monster running that year.

RL: What are you up to in 2008?
Elmo: Hopefully having just as much fun as Elmo had in two thousand and seven!!!

RL: Thanks for taking time to chat with me, Elmo. Is there anything else you'd like to add - any message for all the kids reading this? (or being read to)
Elmo: That Elmo loves all of you and happy, happy two thousand and eight!!


Author's Bio: 

The invasive impact of violent and biased media on children became the impetus, in 1991, for Levy to create KIDS FIRST! / Coalition for Quality Children's Media, dedicated to promoting and nurturing quality children's media as a vehicle for social change. A former educator, Levy designed an award-winning television series, Kidnetics, for PBS Affiliate, WNIT-TV, produced an ACE-nominated television show (Cable Magazine), and managed an independent film production and distribution company, OneWest Media, selling to national and international markets including PBS, the Discovery Channel and Showtime.

For KIDS FIRST, Levy developed the following programs:

Videotherapy, a violence prevention program serving at-risk kids and families in New Mexico

Media Training and Junior Film Critics Club for adults and kids ages 8-12

Incubated Meg's Gifts - a children's hospital donation project

KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - a traveling event that partners with 100 venues annually

Levy co-authored two books, "The New York Times / KIDS FIRST Guide to The Best Children's Videos" and "A Parent's Guide to the Best Children's Videos, DVDs and CD-ROMs" and is a frequent speaker at conferences, including:

Vice President Gore's Family Re-Union

Video Software Dealers Association Convention (now Home Media Entertainment Conference)

National Governor's Association Conference on Quality in Education

Head Start Research Conference

National Association of Family and Community Educators

Levy's media reviews and articles on children's media appear in the following publications and websites:

Grand Magazine

KIDS FIRST! News and KIDS FIRST! Website

TiVo's Zidzone

Smart Television Alliance


Moving Pictures Magazine

National Association for Family and Community Education

She is the mother of two grown children and two wonderful grandchildren.