This beautifully written and illustrated picture book biography introduces readers of all ages to Fred Rogers and the magical neighborhood he brought to life for children via public television. The book’s opening spreads feature the set from his iconic program, and the story works back in time, showcasing events from Fred’s childhood and life leading up to his television success. Some spreads feature sepia-toned illustrations that are set up like pages in a photo album, highlighting Fred’s family, his love of music and puppets, and his playful spirit. The storyline also chronicles his journey into television, describing his desire to see programming that was educational, inclusive, and kind-hearted. Matthew Cordell’s loose pen and ink and watercolor illustrations feature vibrant colors, capturing the light-hearted, caring vibe of Mr. Rogers’s show. In many spreads, Mr. Rogers stands out in his bright red cardigan sweater. Hand-lettered song lyrics and nameplates appear on many pages, identifying memorable music and characters from the show. Detailed backmatter includes additional biographical information about Fred Rogers, real photographs from the set of the show, a Visual Glossary of iconic images to look for throughout the text, and a personal note from Matthew Cordell, detailing the impact Mr. Rogers and his show had on him both as a child and as a parent.
THOUGHTS: Share this title widely, with staff and students alike. Fred Rogers’s enduring messages of empathy, inclusivity, respect, kindness, and love are just as relevant today as they were when his show first aired.
Picture Book Biography Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD