Hello, friends! Our book today is Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers, written by Laura Renauld and illustrated by Brigette Barrager, a loving tribute to the incomparable Fred Rogers’ life and work.
“Hello, neighbor!” the book begins, and welcomes the reader into a familiar television living room set. While we remember Fred Rogers as “America’s favorite television neighbor,” he was once a child; bullied and ignored for his weight and shyness, isolated by childhood illness, and full of very big feelings at a time when children – especially boys – were not encouraged to express them. Yet through music, puppetry, and the support of a few trusted adults like his grandfather McFeely, Fred learned to channel and express his big emotions in positive ways. And Fred grew, he found that kindness and empathy were his strengths, and his confidence grew as people began to see him for the good person he was. It was this talent at expression, empathy, listening, and connecting that led Fred to work in television, where he helped generations of children learn to deal with their own big feelings, and create a kinder world.
As we said in our review of You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid and Matt Phelan, we are big fans of Fred Rogers, and this tender, inspiring, and educational biography does an equally wonderful job at both recounting Rogers’ life while also – as the man himself always sought to do – educating and uplifting its audience. Both books are marvelous, yet distinct; Fred’s Big Feelings makes its mark by covering Rogers’ high school years, notable moments and guests on his show, and his incredible Congressional testimony to save public television. The illustrations are phenomenal, capturing Fred’s emotions and charm from childhood to adulthood, and utilizing a sweet motif of colorful rising hearts to show emotions. The length might be better for slightly older bookworms, though JJ loved it, and was delighted to see her neighbor Mister Rogers on the page once again. A lovely ode that reminds readers that it’s okay to feel, and Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)