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Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte
You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid and illustrated by Matt Phelan, is the story of the life of Fred Rogers, starting from when he was a little boy. We learn of the events and influences that made him into the softhearted, plain spoken and innovative man who eventually won the hearts of millions of children and parents thought his television program Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
When Fred Rogers was a young boy he was often sick and at home, missing school. He found it difficult to make friends and was even bullied. While sick he spent time playing with puppets and began to imagine them as friends. They helped him talk about feelings at a time when sometimes children were told they should not express their feelings.
Eventually, Fred was strengthened by the adults around him. A neighbor lady let him know she enjoyed his company and taught him about cooking. His grandfather let him explore the farm where he lived and told him he loved him just the way he was. And he learned to play piano, which became a lifelong source of contentment and expression.
As Fred Rogers became a man, television began to be popular. But Fred thought television programming should be improved to help children feel good about themselves and learn to expand their imaginations in a happy and healthy way.
Fortunately for the world, he was given that opportunity and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was the result. Mr Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, children’s television programmer and star for over 40 years. Fred Rogers introduced children to the world of friendly neighbors, puppets who talked about their feelings, a train to a make-believe land, and new things to do.
his story is told with whimsical drawings, softly watercolor painted in primary colors that children will enjoy. Fred Rogers, child and man, is always shown with a comfortable sweater. Matt Phelan, the illustrator has left lots of room in the scenes he has created for children to fill in with their imagination.
The book ends with biographical notes about Mr. Rogers and notes from Aimee Reid and Matt Phelan the author and illustrator about how Mr. Rogers was important in their lives. Essentially this book is a both an encouraging story for children and a lovely keepsake for anyone who was a fan of Fred Rogers and who wants to introduce his special way of speaking to children to children or grandchildren.
You Are My Friend was published by Abrams Books Publishing. You can find it on their website, on Amazon and anywhere helpful books are sold.