A simply written, thoughtful tribute worthy of the incomparable Mister Rogers

YOU ARE MY FRIEND

THE STORY OF MISTER ROGERS AND HIS NEIGHBORHOOD

Using straightforward words and a deliberate pace that emulate the tone of Fred Rogers himself, Reid chronicles the story of this extraordinary childhood icon.

“You are important. You are valuable. You are enough—just as you are.” Freddie, as he was known as a child, spent quite a bit of time inside due to illness. Lonely, he turned to his puppets for comfort and entertainment, foreshadowing Daniel Tiger, Henrietta Pussycat, and other well-known characters who would later appear in Make-Believe. Fred’s grandfather McFeely taught him to believe in himself, to trust that he was special. Fred learned how to handle difficult emotions by playing piano music that evoked how he felt in the moment. His mother played an important part, too, encouraging him to look for helpers around him. So many of these early strategies and philosophies would later form the ethos of the Emmy Award–winning Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran for 895 episodes on PBS. Phelan’s watercolor illustrations perfectly capture, through vivid colors, the rainbow of emotions that Freddie experienced. Phelan also employs both classic vignettes and graphic-novel elements, offering a unique portrayal of this remarkable individual. In one later image, he surrounds the sweater-clad white man with diverse children, including one who uses a wheelchair. Poignant notes from the author and illustrator explain the purpose, vision, and heart behind this book.

A simply written, thoughtful tribute worthy of the incomparable Mister Rogers . (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3617-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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