Review of Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
by Matthew Cordell; illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g
5/20    978-0-8234-4618-6    $18.99

This authorized biography of Fred Rogers opens as did his iconic television program, with a stoplight flashing yellow, signaling that it is time to slow down and enjoy our surroundings. It’s a fitting message for readers who met Mister Rogers as young visitors to his Neighborhood. Now fans can discover how he envisioned his television program, why he developed it, and the thinking behind the characters and settings. They can learn that what they may have considered a casual visit to The Neighborhood was carefully planned, covering events of discovery, joy, and sadness in children’s lives. Cordell’s loose pen, ink, and watercolor drawings reflect the leisurely pace of Rogers’s speaking and writing styles, while the text is infused with gentle reminders of his philosophy. Quotes and song lyrics, all encouraging self-confidence and self-worth, appear throughout. Tidbits of information, such as the significance of the number 143, or the fact that Officer Clemmons was the first Black character to appear in a recurring role in a children’s television series, remind readers that every aspect of the program was perceptively constructed. Appended with an extended biography, archival photographs, a note discussing the author-illustrator’s admiration of Rogers, a picture glossary, and sources. A fine tribute to a fine man.

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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