YOU ARE MY FRIEND: THE STORY OF MISTER ROGERS AND HIS NEIGHBORHOOD, by Aimee Reid and Matt Phelan, Harry N. Abrams, Aug. 6, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 5-8)
Mister Rogers is perhaps the most important person to ever grace the television screen. He wasn’t cutting edge. He didn’t sell products. He wasn’t trying to be popular.
All he wanted was to be your friend. Genuinely everyone’s friend. Everyone’s neighbor.
You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood celebrates the Fred Rogers and the impact he had on millions of children and their parents.
Mister Rogers is one of the most beloved television personalities, but before he was the man who brought us Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was just little Freddie Rogers. Though he was often sick and had trouble making friends as a child, his mom and grandfather encouraged him to ask for help and explore the world. With their support, he learned how to better say what he was feeling and see the beauty around him. As he grew up, he realized he could spread the message of compassion, equality, and kindness through television. —Synopsis provided by Harry N. Abrams
You Are My Friend is a work of fiction, though it does include a short biography of Fred’s life and a bibliography. And while it is not associated with or endorsed by The Fred Rogers Company, it certainly embodies Mr. Rogers’ spirit.
Aimee Reid’s words are gentle and welcoming. It’s the illustrations, though, that really bring You Are My Friend to life. Matt Phelan’s pencil and watercolor pieces evoke the emotions Mr. Rogers was so adept at sharing. The spread where Mr. Rogers explains to his neighbors that feelings are important is particularly strong.
Although you can watch some episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood are available to watch for free online and via the PBS Kids app, not many children born today know who he was. Instead, they know his beloved make-believe characters from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. You Are My Friend is a great companion.
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