Review of You Are My Friend, by Aimee Reid, pictures by Matt Phelan

You Are My Friend

The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood

words by Aimee Reid
pictures by Matt Phelan

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019. 40 pages.
Starred Review
Review written August 15, 2019, from a library book

You Are My Friend is an appropriately simple picture book biography about Fred Rogers and why he began his classic television show.

It simply tells about his lonely childhood dealing with illness and bullying, and some of the ways he coped, such as puppets and music. It talks about his mother telling him to look for helpers and finding friends in his own neighborhood.

The book covers all the important points about his life and his show, while lingering over some key scenes. I love the scene after his grandfather let him walk on the big stone wall on his farm.

When at last Fred came back inside,
he had a skinned knee, but he was happy.
His grandpa told Fred that he liked him
just the way he was.
He said Fred was special and that,
just by being himself,
Fred made the day special, too.
Fred let those words sink deep inside him.
As he thought them, he felt braver.

The explanation of his motivation for creating his show comes from Mister Rogers’ testimony to the United States Senate on behalf of public funding for television.

One day, when Fred was grown up, he saw a television program. People were throwing pies in each other’s faces. Fred did not like the pie throwing, but he thought television could be wonderful. What if, instead of showing people fighting, TV could show people helping one another? Right then, Fred decided that was what he wanted to do.

This book explains the man behind the neighborhood on a level that small children can understand and their parents will particularly appreciate. The illustrations are a perfect accompaniment.

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