You Are My Friend
You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood is a gently paced video based on a picture book of the same name, with a runtime of 23 minutes. Jacket copy notes this video and the book on which it was based are works of fiction, and are “expression[s] of admiration of Fred Rogers…by the author and illustrator.” Note that additional jacket copy says this product is not affiliated with or endorsed by The Fred Rogers Company.
It is capably narrated by actor Bronson Pinchot, and creatively animated to retain the simple charm of the picture book. It focuses on young Freddie Rogers, a sickly boy who turned to puppets as playmates. Young Freddie also learned how to deal with strong emotions by expressing them through music he played on a piano. Freddie’s mother and grandfather also helped him cope with anxiety by offering gentle words of wisdom and reassurance.
The video includes a read-along subtitle option; narrated notes from the author and illustrator; and a narrated biography of Fred Rogers. That sequence includes a troubling graphics error, flashing the title of Fred’s children’s program as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood – when the correct title is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Apostrophes matter!)
For longtime fans of Fred Rogers, this tale does provide glimpses into possible inspirations from his childhood that worked their way into his iconic program… but it sometimes feels more like a nostalgia piece for adults rather than a product aimed at young viewers.
Gina Catanzarite ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 14 Emmy® awards, 37 Emmy® nominations, a Matrix award, 3 Golden Quill awards, 2 Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.