Hello, friends! Our book today is You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood, written by Aimee Reid and illustrated by Matt Phelan, a beautiful appreciation of the one and only Fred Rogers.
As a little boy, Freddie was often sick. He had to stay inside, away from the other kids, and it left him lonely and withdrawn. Wishing for someone to talk to, Freddie played with puppets, whom he felt safe expressing his feelings to. As he grows – and is bullied by other children for his soft-spoken nature – he channels his big emotions into other things, like music and learning. Freddie takes to heart lessons from his Grandfather, who encourages him to try new things, and his mother, who instructs him to find hope in dark times by looking for “the helpers”. When he becomes a man, Freddie – now Fred – sees the popularity of television as a way to reach out to kids who may feel lost, confused, or sad like he once did. So he creates a television show that encourages them to learn, to express, and to love themselves just as they are. He calls his audience his “neighbors”, and an icon of kindness and love is born.
Mister Rogers has been receiving a lot of attention in the last few years, and it’s all well-deserved; Fred Rogers was a singular figure who changed the face of children’s entertainment and popular attitudes on childhood development. We’re big fans, so we were excited for this title, and it did not disappoint one bit. The measured, straightforward text evokes Rogers’ own delivery, and educates the reader about fostering curiosity and dealing with big emotions as much as it tells Freddie’s tale. The soft, delicate illustrations are gorgeous, and the use of colors to portray tone and emotion superb. The length is better for older bookworms, but JJ comfortably sat through and was eager to examine the charming, detailed art afterwards. We loved this one: it’s a pitch-perfect ode to a humble hero that continues his legacy, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!