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  • Learn everything about the man behind the cardigan

    Thanks to Netgalley, Abrams Press, and Maxwell King for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. Fred Rogers is beloved by millions of people - children, now adults, who remember Mr. Rogers with fondness. His program was the most successful children’s program on public television due to his vision, commitment and singular ability to talk to children on their level. His message of loving you “just the way you are”, and broaching heavy topics of divorce and death made him a unique voice. He wasn’t afraid to put his feet in a tub of water with a black man, or introduce Jeff, a disabled child, along with many other guests to break down walls of prejudice, racism and other serious subjects. But those who watched will probably best remember his songs, his puppets and of course his cardigan and sneakers, along with the trolley that took us to the land of Make Believe. But who was Fred Rogers? Maxwell King shows us that he was exactly as he presented himself to be. This is a detailed, well researched recap of his life from childhood to death. Mr. Rogers’ childhood had a huge impact on the man he was to become. His sensitivity and ability to listen was developed when he was young, often sick and lonely. His attic is where he created his puppet characters putting on show after show. His mother’s love of religion and strong tenets of being kind and helping those in need was felt so deeply that Fred considered becoming a minister and studied towards it for many years. But his creative and artistic side needed to be expressed. He worked in television for many years honing his skills, always knowing where he was heading. He could have been very rich if he had stayed at NBC, who wanted his show, but he was adamant that there was never to be any advertising to children. He studied child development and worked closely with Dr. Margaret McFarland, an expert in the field, often running scripts by her to make sure the wording was perfect and the meaning would be understood by children. He was an accomplished musician, composing hundreds of songs for the show. He worked very hard, demanded excellence and never compromised who he was for material gain. Who knew this soft spoke, nasally voiced guy would have such a connection with kids. I learned so much about the man behind the cardigan. I really enjoyed learning what made him tick. I had no idea how complex of a man he was. I didn’t realize he had that much control over his show and reading how the show developed into what we saw was really interesting. I never realized what a pioneer he was in television, public television and in children’s programming. The book is thorough and well thought out. It is slow paced and unassuming, like the man himself. There are no false dramatics to make it more exciting. But it didn’t bother me. I rather enjoyed it. It takes you way back and made me long to hear him sing “Won’t you be my neighbor” one more time.

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