cover image Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers

Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers

Laura Renauld, illus. by Brigette Barrager. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4122-4

Renauld (Porcupine’s Pie) and Barrager (Uni the Unicorn) tell the story of Fred Rogers’s childhood and rise to fame through the lens of emotions, explaining that the beloved PBS personality was “a quiet boy with big feelings.” While young Freddy “felt sad when his schoolmates overlooked him,” he grows into someone who “broadcasted affection, compassion, and respect for his audience.” The earnest text, which uses italics to call out emotive words, occasionally feels aimed at a well-meaning adult audience: readers are told, for example, that Rogers wanted to “be more intentional about the content of his shows. The brightly colored, cartoon-style, gouache-and-pencil drawings chronicle the subject’s life with whimsical details, such as confetti-like streams of hearts occasionally emanating from Rogers, his cast, guests (including Officer Clemmons and Koko the gorilla), and audience members as they connect with his message that “there’s only one person in the whole world like you.” Those seeking a tribute more reflective of Rogers’s own soft-spoken grace may want to opt for Aimee Reed’s You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood, but many families will welcome the affirming messages in this affectionate portrait. Ages 4–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]