[King] offers the full complement of heartwarming, feel-good stories we would expect from a book about Mister Rogers ... King is a skilled storyteller who captures the essence of not only Rogers the person but also the very particular American scene that produced him ... The Good Neighbor guides us smoothly from Rogers’s childhood though his early adulthood and the start of his professional career ... King seems to recognize the dangers of regarding Rogers as too good — so impossibly virtuous as to seem not quite mortal — and does his best to excavate Rogers’s dark side.
King offers a comprehensive look at Rogers’ life ... Rogers emerges from this biography much like I imagine he did every morning from his swim: fresh and glowing with health, secure in his identity, calm and creatively focused. His passions for puppetry, childhood development, faith and music come through clearly. It is undeniably heartening to read about someone who cared so deeply for children and childhood.
...Maxwell King’s The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, offers the almost wacky details of [Rogers's] life...but only hints at the tension within Rogers, both the dutiful son of an industrialist and a sensitive composer devoted to the idea that the world children live in is fundamentally different from the world inhabited by adults ... King seems obsessed with Rogers’s sexuality—though to be fair, a lot of people are, with the apparent exception of his wife, Joanne, to whom he was married for fifty years ... King...treats his subject’s sex life as if he were conducting a police investigation ... Reading between the lines of King’s biography, one is struck by the ways in which Rogers’s creation was a reaction to severe restrictions and disconnections in his childhood, the ways that his parents’ philanthropic work (they bought shoes for his classmates, for instance) set him apart from the kids on the playground ... King make[s] Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood sound like a one-man show, while cast members recall it having been a team effort ... King argues that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an animated PBS Kids show created in 2012, 'captures the spirit of Rogers and advances his legacy' ... [but] Their biography-oriented marketing seems to go against what Rogers was saying, especially in his later years, when he bemoaned how the increasing noise in American society hampered our ability to merely be present with one another.
...a comprehensive look at the life and work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King. It’s a reverential celebration of a man who seemed too good to be true —but was ... The earlier years are particularly fascinating, and the biography shines a light on the often-overlooked hiatus from the Neighborhood in the mid-1970s when Mr. Rogers created programs for adults ... It’s all very earnest and welcome although it could have used more jolts of the irreverence ... It doesn’t make clear if any cast members recently declined to be interviewed or merely were squeezed out for space, and it occasionally touches on events that beg for more elaboration.
The first biography of Fred Rogers is touching, but treats its subject with kid gloves ... it’s almost certain to be the most exhaustive of the projects when it comes to telling the story of its subject’s life and exploring what made him tick. But at the same time, the book’s extra details don’t shed a ton of new light on things. If you’ve seen the movie, the things you’ll learn from the book are essentially trivia ... the book can’t help but feel a bit flat and perfunctory ... King presents a great number of facts in the book, but does little to finesse them into real storytelling ... One of the real strengths of The Good Neighbor is that it doubles as not just a history of early TV production, but also a primer on early-childhood education theory ... Ultimately The Good Neighbor gets the job done, but it’s hard to forget that others have done this same job better.
Though indifferently written and sometimes scattered, King’s book is resolute on the turns Rogers took in order to be sure that his show not be the usual pandering, cereal-selling child’s fare, passing up a fortune in the bargain. A bonus: the author’s revelation of the role Rogers played in getting Monty Python on the air in America ... Serviceable overall, but strong in its demonstration that Rogers was not just a good neighbor and a good friend to children, but also a very good man.
...a glowing portrait ... Rogers has been criticized for promoting a culture of televisual passivity and coddling—he once retaped a scene in which a pot of popcorn overflowed because he thought the spillage might frighten young viewers—but King’s hagiography skirts those issues. Readers looking for an incisive examination of Rogers’s impact will not find one here.