The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

Oasis Audio. Sept. 2018. 14:07 hrs. ISBN 9781640910850. $28.99. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarThis marvelous audio recording recounts the life story of the incredibly influential children's television pioneer Fred Rogers. Listeners who grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood may be surprised to learn just how much care, thought, and research went into the various children's programs that Rogers created. His privileged upbringing did not protect him from the painful experiences of bullying and excruciating shyness. This led him to take refuge in his imagination with a series of puppets he designed. As he became a student, his interest in child psychology, family dynamics, and eventually a call to the Presbyterian ministry all combined to foster the perfect background to support this kind, devoted man in his quest to provide comfort to children. He was fierce in his determination to create a show that gave children the chance to feel and express their fears, concerns, and thoughts. He had a way of communicating at their level with love and respect that had never been seen before on television. LeVar Burton is the perfect narrator for this wholly engaging book. His lively, warm reading fully involves the listener, using quiet spaces much the way Rogers did. Burton's choice to impersonate different speakers may jar some listeners, but it works for the most part.
VERDICT Burton's nuanced, lively inflection and pacing keep listeners' attention and many will come away from the production with a new personal hero in Mr. Rogers. Highly recommended for all collections. ["Grown-up fans, pop culture enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the history of educational television and child development will be inspired. An excellent and timely addition to most collections": LJ 8/18 starred review of the Abrams hc.]—B. Allison Gray, Goleta P.L., CA
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