Booklist Reviews 2018 August #1
Sometimes, learning too much about a person can make his magic disappear. But in King's nearly 400-page biography of Fred Rogers, which thoroughly details everything from a bullied childhood (classmates called him Fat Freddy) to reflections on the psychological power of puppetry, the inimitable Mr. Rogers becomes somehow even more enchanting. In addition to elegantly narrating the facts of Rogers' life—a wealthy upbringing, his spiritual conviction and love of music, a lifelong commitment to early childhood education, commercial support paired with refusal to commercialize his namesake show—King's book brims with anecdotes of intimate exchanges that highlight Rogers' kindness and grace. Hours spent at the airport with a friend whose plane was delayed. A brief, calming conversation in an elevator with a television producer frantic over studio hiccups. A casual stroll with a little boy shocked to see his television idol on his very own block. "Deep and simple—that's what matters," Rogers used to say. King, Pittsburgh Foundation president and a former newspaper editor, counsels that, in our current political climate, we would do well to remember this credo today. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 August #1
Former Philadelphia Inquirer editor King reveals Fred Rogers (1928–2003), creator of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, whose guiding principles of his Christian faith—kindness, acceptance, and unconditional love—underpinned every aspect of his professional and personal life. Arranged more or less chronologically, this title traces Rogers's development from an often sickly and overweight child, subjected to childhood bullying and an overprotective mother. His upbringing, while often socially isolating, provided a rich environment for the development of his creativity; he went on to study musical composition and become ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001, was radical for its time, covering war, death, divorce, and other controversial topics honestly and respectfully for children's understanding. Myths about Rogers—that his sweaters covered up tattoos or that he was a Vietnam sniper—are debunked, revealing instead that he was exactly as he appeared. VERDICT Grown-up fans, pop culture enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the history of educational television and child development will be inspired. An excellent and timely addition to most collections. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 26.]—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2018 June #2
The creator and host of the 1968–2001 children's television show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was a paragon of friendliness, according to this adulatory biography. King, a former Philadelphia Inquirer editor who knew Fred Rogers before his death, paints him as a genius with an uncanny rapport with children—sprouted from boyhood struggles with wealthy, smothering parents, bullies, and asthma—and a determination to alleviate their angst. Rogers became famous for his show, which blended puppets, songs, conversational lessons on everything from cleaning up messes to weathering divorce, and reassurances that kids are fine the way they are, all based on the latest child-development theories. In King's glowing portrait, Rogers, who was also a Presbyterian minister, was a protector of family values—he refused to advertise merchandise to kids—as well as an exemplar of "caring, kindness and modesty," who was dubbed "the most Christ-like human being I have ever encountered" by a fellow clergyman. Rogers has been criticized for promoting a culture of televisual passivity and coddling—he once retaped a scene in which a pot of popcorn overflowed because he thought the spillage might frighten young viewers—but King's hagiography skirts those issues. Readers looking for an incisive examination of Rogers's impact will not find one here. (Sept.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.