Tag Archive: The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers preview


Review by C.J. Bunce

What can you say about Mr. Rogers that you didn’t learn from his more than three decades on television?  Plenty, as you’ll find in The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, a new work of non-fiction by Maxwell King that we previewed earlier at borg here.  If you could meet any creator of the past fifty years, it would be difficult to find anyone as sincere and genuine as television’s Mr.  Rogers.  Maybe Jim Henson?  Bob Ross?  Mr. Rogers was a man whose private life was every bit as real as his persona on television, according to hundreds of people who knew him that were interviewed for King’s new book.

The fear for a reader of the book is like any behind-the-scenes peek at a beloved film or television series: As with learning the magician’s secrets or seeing a Muppet with a hand stuffed up its back, the man that became Mr. Rogers has his flaws, and his several TV projects, books, speeches, and other works reveals in many ways and from many avenues that he really was just a man.  So for some, there’s too much to see here.  Yet readers will not be surprised that no matter who was asked and prodded, there were no skeletons in his closet to reveal–King even notes the categorical rejection of so many Internet myths that have arisen about him since his death in 2003.  All, of course, are false.  What you saw was what you got: an educated thinker who chose to help people with his singular career path.

Yet was he really just a man?  Would any other person have so many incredible encounters?  An autistic child visited his set with his family, only to speak for the very first time when Mr. Rogers addressed the child directly through the famous puppets King Friday XIII and Queen Sara Saturday, which the boy had watched for years on TV at his home?  Or when Koko the gorilla, who passed away earlier this year, visited him, she took him into her arms.  Koko was a long-time fan of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and when they met the two spoke to each other in American Sign Language and took photographs of each other.  Before the advent of the literal movie blockbuster, Mr. Rogers had thousands of children and their parents lined up around city blocks for a chance to meet him in person.  Clearly, if Mr. Rogers was just a man, he was like no other before or since.

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This month Abrams Books released The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, an account of Fred (you know him as Mr.) Rogers, his show, and his lifetime of good works, written by Maxwell King, available now here at Amazon.  As part of the roll-out of the book, instructions to make a cardigan sweater like the famous one Mr. Rogers wore on his show is now available to download for a limited time.  From the publisher:  The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon.  Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development.  An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.

Abrams Books is releasing another book next month, Amy Herzog’s Ultimate Sweater Book, which ties nicely into the Mr. Rogers biography.  A big plus for Mr. Rogers’ fans:  It will include directions for a sweater like Rogers wore on his show.  You can pre-order Herzog’s book now here at Amazon, and we’ve included a preview of the book below.  He wore several sweaters and different colors on the show over the years, but has anyone counted the number of times he wore a sweater?

 

Knitters (and friends of knitters) should take note:  For a limited time you can download the complete pattern and instructions from Herzog’s book to make your own cardigan, just like the one Mr. Rogers had.  Who better to cosplay than America’s most beloved icon?

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