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Book Review - Mister Rogers

This cover image released by Clarkson Potter shows “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood” by Melissa Wagner. 

"Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Wonderful Wisdom from Everyone's Favorite Neighbor" (Clarkson Potter), written by Melissa Wagner

If you need something to hold you over between the Mister Rogers documentary and the upcoming biopic starring Tom Hanks, a new coffee-table book of his quotes is now in bookstores.

"Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" is small and short, with the cover featuring his signature red cardigan; an easy pick-me-up when the mood strikes to read wisdom in Mister Rogers' voice.

"Mister Rogers was always focused on children, but his words are just as important and meaningful to adults," writes Wagner, who also wrote "The Mister Rogers Parenting Book."

Some quotes have added resonance for these times. In an era of hype, Rogers counsels: "You don't have to do anything sensational for people to love you." To anyone in despair about what surrounds them: "The more you grow into a helpful person yourself, the happier you'll find this world of ours is."

Wagner cites several instances of Rogers leading by example. He encouraged people to not let the fear of making mistakes stop them from trying something new: "We watched him laughing and smiling as he awkwardly mixed up dance moves with Ella Jenkins, dropped balls while juggling, and tried to use a Hula-Hoop." By feeding his fish every episode, "he helped us see the importance of being consistent in our care — in caring for others who rely on us, and in caring for ourselves."

He understood the desire in adults and children alike to feel "useful and needed," Wagner writes. "He also helped us recognize our contributions, so we could feel proud of our efforts. 'Passing things at the table or getting your mom's pocketbook or briefcase when she asks for it — or giving someone a hug when you think they need one. That's being a caregiver. You see, you're already a caregiver, by many things that you do.'"

The book also includes quotes and dialogue from the TV show's other characters, which don't always hit the mark. Some tend to run on, a rough transition from the spoken word to the page.

Then there are sweet gems like this that make the book worth keeping around: "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."

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