A heartwarming picture book that celebrates the work of Mister Rogers and carries on his legacy of kindness
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. You Are My Friend is a gentle homage to Fred Rogers and shows how his simple message still resonates with us today: “There’s no person in the world like you and I like you just the way you are.” The book includes a short biography of Fred’s life and a bibliography.
In this graceful, quietly moving biography, readers learn that Fred Rogers, the PBS personality beloved by generations of children, started life as an outlier, bullied and often sick, with only his puppets for friends. "Sometimes, when he was all alone, Freddie cried," writes Reid (Mama's Day with Little Gray), who strikes a soothing, almost reportorial tone throughout. The discovery that emotions of all kinds could be articulated through music, and the loving attention of a few key adults, help Rogers gain confidence and a sense of purpose, inspiring him to invent a TV show that celebrates helping, kindness, and the importance of people learning "to like themselves." Pencil-and-watercolor art by Phelan (Little Robot Alone) exudes a sense of warmth and reflection, not unlike Rogers's show itself; pops of red and other bright colors punctuate soft, sunny washes to emphasize Rogers's signature cardigans which, in these pages, date back to his childhood. It's a graceful, quietly moving biography, albeit one that includes very little where Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is concerned: for example, the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and the groundbreaking role of Officer Clemmons are never referenced. Nonetheless, readers should come away with appreciation for Rogers as someone who cared deeply about what children thought and felt. Ages 5 8.