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Mister Rogers speaks directly into the camera to the little children who are quietly, intently watching: “It helps to say that you’re sad. Often it even helps to cry . . . let people know how you feel.” This is Rogers’s signature message: feelings are all right, whatever is mentionable is manageable, however confusing and scary life may become. Even with death and loss and pain, it’s okay to feel all of it, and then go on.

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by: Maxwell King

Initial Thoughts: I watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood so many times when I was a kid. Although I didn’t remember the specifics of his show until I read this book, the lessons that he imparted did have an impact on me as well as several generations of children. Fred Rogers’ impact went largely unnoticed until recent years.

Summary

Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.

The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations. 

The Review

Just as millions of children, I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. So did my parents. My vague recollections of the show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is in a flurry of recollections of various puppets, a postman named Mr. McFeely, feeding some fish, and Mr. Rogers changing his shoes while singing. I cannot really remember what my thoughts were about Mr. Rogers as a child, but as an adult after watching a documentary about his life and by reading this book, I developed a whole new appreciation for Fred Rogers.


Fred McFeely Rogers grew up in a privileged household in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Prone to sickness and shyness, Fred spent a lot of his time alone learning puppetry and playing the piano. Later, he went on to study music and became a Presbyterian minister. Later, he began working in children’s television believing that it was his calling to help educate children to manage feelings through children’s programming. Eventually, this led to the creation of his beloved show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
The Good Neighbor tells the life story of Fred Rogers from beginning to end through interviews with people who were close to Fred and through Fred’s own writing. And of course, one of the things that many people want to know about Mr. Rogers is… was he really the same person in real life as he was on tv. The answer: yes, but he was also a human being who felt anger and had doubts about his teachings.
If there is anything that can be taken away from this fascinating biography, it is just how great of an impact Fred Rogers made on so many children throughout the Western world. I would highly recommend this biography to those who believe that Mr. Rogers is only a man who sang and spent forever changing his shoes. 

Final Rating:

About the Book

Title: The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

Author: Maxwell King

Year Published: 2018

Pages: 416

Genres & Subjects: Non fiction, biography, Fred Rogers

Until Next Time,

Alice

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