When I saw this title, I considered reading the book as a possible gift idea for relatives living near Mr. Rogers' real life neighborhood in Pittsburgh. The book may be 162 pages of too corny too sweet, I thought, but I'll try it. What ended up happening as I read was the overwhelming urge to cuddle up with my children and visit Mr. Rogers' TV neighborhood. Amy Hollingsworth, who became a close friend of Mr. Rogers as the result of her interview of him for The 700 Club, describes Mr. Rogers' with affection and conveys some of his inspirational qualities. Now, instead of seeing him as corny and sweet, I see him as a sincere man whose calling was to instill worth and show compassion to those he encountered.
The author describes young Fred facing teasing and rejection as a child and his decision to understand, forgive and "love thy neighbor" rather than become bitter. Mrs. Hollingsworth's book challenges one to consider their neighbor; the book is a call to love, a call to honor, and a call to compassion. Mr. Rogers' compassion did not settle for tolerating a person, but sought to encourage them they were special because their Creator made them. As Mr. Rogers said, "you are special by just your being you." Mr. Rogers was able to live his life supernaturally; inspired by faith, prayer, Bible study, and the encouragement that grows out of friendships.
Another minor theme of the book is the condition of children's entertainment. Reviewing Mrs. Hollingsworth's book, I found myself immersed in the Rogerian philosophy of child development-a philosophy with close ties to the Golden Rule. The gentle, respectful, understanding, calm, warm ways Mr. Rogers displayed towards children had me mentally assessing our DVD collection and considering what is honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Next birthday party...give the child a Mr. Rogers' DVD and his parents a copy of this book.