Friday, February 14, 2020

Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers by Laura Renauld, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

❤️Happy Valentine's Day!❤️

And what better day to look at the life and legacy of Fred Rogers A/K/A Mister Rogers.  OK, it is an unconventional book for Valentines Day, but it is a day for love and we’ve heard a lot about Fred Rogers lately and all of it stressing was a caring, compassionate man he was. But who was he really and how did he become the famous man on TV that children loved for more than 50 years of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood?   

Author Laura Renauld begins Fred's story by inviting the reader onto the set of the TV show with a big Hello, neighbor! just like Fred always did. But then, she switches to a behind the scenes look at who this charismatic figure was before he became Mister Rogers when "...he was Freddy Rogers, a quiet boy with big feelings."

Underweight and asthmatic, he was sad when kids didn't play with him, and scared when other kids bullied him. Asthma kept him inside the house as a boy, with made him feel lonely. And so Fred learned to express his feelings through music, but the person who really helped build his self-esteem was his grandfather McFeely, who told him "You made this day really special just by being yourself...and I happen to like you just the way you are."

Buoyed by love and an unlikely friendship in high school athlete, Fred's confidence began to soar. Eventually, Fred used his love of music to create a children's television program hoping to counter the poor quality kids' shows already on TV. He wanted it to be a place where kids would feel welcomed, loved and special. Although The Children's Corner was successful, it didn't last, but it did open the door in 1968 for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, a show that focused on feeling, all kinds of feelings:

Click to enlarge
And what a success it was. But in 1969, Congress threatened to pull funding for public television, including Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. So Fred did what he had to do - he went to Capital Hill and explained that he just wanted to teach kids "how to express emotions constructively" and then he recited a song he had written called "What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?" Since his show continued for 49 more years, you know that Congress provided the funding needed for public television to stay on the air.

Fred Rogers' was all about helping kids deal with their emotions and he did it through affection, compassion and respect for the children who watched him. Most importantly, they learned that everyone has feelings and that they express them in their own special way.

Author Laura Renauld has really captured Fred's message and legacy in this thoughtful biography that is so accessible to young readers. I especially liked that throughout the book, she has italicized all the emotion words (and so did I) so that they really stand out and are readily available for generating all kinds of discussions.

Artist Brigette Barrager's illustrations compliments and harmonizes with the text on each page with her cartoon-like gouache and pencil images done in a mix of primary and secondary colors. 

Fred's Big Feelings is sure to be a family and classroom favorite, especially among those who remember the shows. And kids who have never had the pleasure of watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood will at least take away Fred's message of love and acceptance and remember that

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was gratefully received from the publisher, Atheneum BFYR, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! Thank you so much. Will be getting this for the grandchildren.


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