Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers (Laura Renauld)

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.)

Porcupine’s Pie (Laura Renauld)

Hello, friends! Sorry for our long hiatus, but we’re back! Our book today is Porcupine’s Pie, written by Laura Renauld and illustrated by Jennie Poh, a delightful tale of generosity and friendship.

Fall Feast Day is here, and Porcupine is prickled with excitement – she can’t wait to bake her famous Cranberry Pie for all her friends. Gathering her cranberries, she sets off to the river to wash them, running into her friend Squirrel along the way. Inquiring as to whether Squirrel will be making her famous Nut Bread, Porcupine is disappointed to hear that Squirrel is missing flour for her recipe – but not to worry! Porcupine has plenty in her kitchen, and tells Squirrel to help herself. Continuing on her journey, Porcupine also stops by Bear’s cave and Doe’s thicket, and finds they have similar predicaments – Bear is missing butter for his Honey Cake, and Doe lacks sugar for her Apple Tart. Again, Porcupine happily offers what she has. But when she arrives at the river to wash her berries, she makes a sad discovery: her cranberries have all fallen out along her way! Sadly returning home, she prepares to make a plain pie crust… but a knock at the door will show that good friends always return the kindness they are shown.

Wonderful. The classic, cozy story and timeless message, combined with some adorable fall-themed illustrations, make this a perfect autumn read. The text is warm and gentle without ever being too cutesy, and the characters are all marvelously endearing, especially the squat, spiny Porcupine. There’s even a recipe for Friendship Pie in the back for the culinary-inclined. The length was perfect, and JJ loved it. A charming fall read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)