You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood

Abrams. Aug. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419736179.
PreS-Gr 2–A quietly moving picture book biography about the origin story of Mister Rogers. In straightforward language, Reid lays out the facts of Fred “Freddie” Rogers’s childhood—bouts of sickness that forced him to remain inside for weeks on end, loneliness that laid the foundation for an expansive imagination, bullying, and a close relationship with his grandfather, who showed love and unconditional support and gifted young Freddie with the words that would shape his own philosophy: that he “was special and that, just by being himself, [he] made the day special, too.” Phelan’s soft pencil work and washes of watercolor give the artwork an appropriately nostalgic feel, while bright pops of green and red—Fred’s iconic cardigans—draw the eye and underscore the unique power of Mister Rogers to inspire an almost instantaneous bond with his viewers. Young readers who may not be familiar with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood but who’ve likely enjoyed its successors, especially Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, will learn about the man behind the creation of the original Neighborhood of Make-Believe and his path from shy boy to the visionary who revolutionized educational television for children. Back matter, including a brief biography, notes from Reid and Phelan, and a selected bibliography will help students understand the emotional impact Fred Rogers had—and continues to have—on generations of children.
VERDICT With the popularity of Daniel Tiger and the recent Morgan Neville documentary (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and the upcoming biopic starring Tom Hanks, it is an ideal time to introduce the next generation to the pure magic of Mister Rogers and his legacy. His enduring message to children of all ages—that you are enough, just as you are—can never be overstated

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