[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.