Fred Rogers – or, as we all knew him growing up, Mister Rogers – will forever be remembered as the man who welcomed all of us to his neighborhood. He brought today’s audiences Daniel Tiger; he taught us all to take our shoes off and change into something more comfortable when we got home, and he taught us to sing about our feelings. Mister Rogers’ Gift of Music is a picture book biography on Fred Rogers’s childhood, when music was his “sunshine”, always there to cheer him up and help him work through his feelings. He shared his music with children to help them understand and see themselves in music, too: “Fred made everyone feel special. Sick kids, lonely kids, kids who didn’t fit in. Everyone.” The story helps children connect music with feeling. Mixed media illustration is warm and embracing, with the lyrics to some of Rogers’s most memorable songs dancing across spreads, embraced in color. Diverse and inclusive artwork shows a multitude of children around Rogers as he enchants them with a handpuppet that I’m pretty sure is Daniel Tiger. Endpapers show Fred Rogers’ neighborhood, with a swirl of colorful music bringing vibrant color. Ask kids to point out the bright red trolley! I recognize each of Mister Rogers’s sweaters in the book: his green sweater, his blue sweater, and that iconic red sweater; all here to delight readers of every age. This is a first-purchase biography.
Mister Rogers’ Gift of Music has a starred review from Booklist. Visit the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood website to learn more about Fred Rogers, his organization, and to watch episodes.