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

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

Aimee Reid, illus. by Matt Phelan. Abrams, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3617-9

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. [em](Aug.) [/em]