Review: ‘Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’

Funko POP! Mister Rogers is not included with the book, but they look great together on the bookshelf don’t they? (Photo by Skip Owens)

Even if you haven’t seen the Mister Rogers’ movie, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, which is currently in theaters you know that Fred Rogers handed out life lessons to both kids and adults alike. That is the premise behind the book Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

What Is Everything I Need to Know…?

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a book of quotes and life lessons taken from the TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The book is authored by Melissa Wagner with the book’s original artwork done by Max Dalton. The book itself covers topics like kindness, empathy, self-care, respect and love and each quote or topic is as short as a single illustration and a quote, or can be as long as a couple of pages in length. The book is written in a way that it could be read to a small child and understood by them, but the messages within the book are also directed at and just as impactful to us adults (you know, the many of us that watched the TV show as a kid and then grew up).

You may recognize the name Melissa Wagner as she was also co-author of the book Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: A Visual History (which I also reviewed here on GeekDad). Melissa Wagner also co-authored a few books with Fred Rogers, including The Mister Rogers Parenting Book and Mister Rogers’ Playtime. In addition to being a writer Melissa Wagner is also an editor and lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughter.

The illustrator, Max Dalton, may also be recognized by a few of you. Max is a graphic artist currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has worked as an illustrator on the following books:

  • Star Wars: A Poster Collection
  • The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time
  • The Wes Anderson Collection (an overview of Wes Anderson’s filmography features previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photos, artwork, and ephemera)

Wisdom From The Cardigan Sweater

Rather than try to convey the messages and meanings scattered throughout this book in small nuggets of 1-3 page servings I thought I would share with you just two of my favorite “lessons” from the book.

Image from Clarkson Potter

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

– Quote from Fred Rogers

Image from Clarkson Potter

“Everybody’s different. And there are some things about everybody that are the same. That’s what’s wonderful. That’s what helps us to understand each other. That we’ve got some things inside of us that are the same as somebody else’s. We’re all human beings.”

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

The above lesson from the book is titled “We Are All Neighbors” and was based on episode 1065 which originally aired on May 9, 1969. Mister Rogers invited Officer Clemmons to join him and soak his feet with him in the pool. Back when this episode aired in the 60’s there was a lot of racial tension and this simple act was a subtle yet powerful message to children about friendship and acceptance. Yet another example of where Fred Rogers didn’t shy away from uncomfortable and difficult topics when it came to children. In a touching send-off to Officer Clemmons in his final episode on the TV show almost twenty years later, Mister Roger recreated this scene with his friend.

Verdict

The book weighs in at just 128 pages and has a front cover of only 6 inches wide by 7.6 inches tall, but it is packed full of some really wonderful life lessons told in the style of Fred Rogers. The graphic artist really did his homework too, as the front and back cover of the book (as well as other places in the book) uses an irregular pattern of colorful circular and jellybean shapes. The pattern looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place it until I did some digging…it is the walking path from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe! Every illustration in the book is a Max Dalton original and it really puts you right back into your childhood living room watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

So who is this book for? As I mentioned earlier, because the book is written in the same type of prose as the original television show it is a book that can be read and understood by the young and the “not-so-young” alike. But even more important than reading comprehension is the messaging, and just like the movie A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, this book has messages that we could all use in our lives right now. So this book would make an excellent holiday gift for just about anyone on your list.

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is available now for about $10 from Amazon or from just about anywhere really good books are sold.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for the purpose of this review, but Clarkson Potter Publishers had no input into the review content.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

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