Sunday, August 11, 2019

Who is My Neighbor, Mr. Rogers?

The first page of today’s book says,
Love your neighbor as yourself,
and love the stranger,
because you know what it was like to be a stranger.
Isn’t that true of us all? This book and the wisdom of Fred Rogers are featured here at PBT because we need their wisdom more than ever in our world. 
Picture Book: Who is My Neighbor?
Authors: Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrator: Denise Turu
Summary: These 2 authors, a rabbi and a religion professor, have a knack for putting a new spin on biblical parables. Here they offer a more innocent, less violent version of The Good Samaritan for preschoolers and young elementary kiddos. The story begins with the Blues, who live in a very blue culture and think they must be the coolest, especially when compared to...
the Yellows, in the neighboring town, who enjoy all things yellow. They are certain to be the hottest! Each group doesn't go near the others, claiming, "They are not our neighbors." For Blues there was no such thing as a good Yellow and visa versa. 
Things change when Midnight Blue has a bike accident. Neither Navy nor Powder Blue help when passing. Midnight thinks this is puzzling. Aren't they his neighbors? But when Lemon comes along, she helps Midnight, despite both feeling suspicious and afraid. She lifts Midnight onto her bike and takes him to her doctor. Midnight comments that Lemon is "a good Yellow, not like the others." Lemon explains that most Yellows are good. Midnight says the same of most Blues and shares his squished blueberries. Also, Midnight is surprised that Dr. Gold is so kind and good. After being bandaged, Midnight says thanks to Lemon and declares, "I would like to be your friend." Lemon agrees enthusiastically.  
When the new friends go home, they tell their stories to surprised audiences. Everyone wonders if Blues and Yellows could all be helpful friends, despite their many differences. "Maybe just maybe," hopes Midnight and Lemon. 
Hanna’s Comments: A new story from Flyaway Books is always a treat! Along with a few questions, find in the back of Flyaway’s books by these 2 authors a helpful Note for Parents and Educators where the important concept and tradition of parables is explained. Check out 2 more fabulous books by these authors [here] and [here.] 
Image result for fred rogers
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Fred Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Did you know he was an ordained minister? His positive messages of neighborliness and acceptance are crucial for children to hear and learn and everyone else to practice for the sake of our world. You might consider tapping into this gold mine in your church's family programming. Find out more about the popular 2018 documentary [here]. Also, Tom Hanks will be starring as Fred Rogers in an up-coming movie in theaters. Check out the trailer [here].     
Original Publisher & Date: Flyaway Books, 2019      
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: This book is a retelling of The Good Samaritan from The Gospel of Luke, chapter 10.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young elementary-aged students who are studying The Shema or the parable of The Good Samaritan.


  1. Thank you for this good, good work and sharing of books that remind us of our Christian calling to love our neighbor. I am sharing it far and wide through my work and ministry, Hanna. God bless you and yours!!

    1. I love that you are sharing my work "far and wide" through your ministry! Thank you! That has been my hope since the beginning of PBT, back in 2013. Thank you so much for your feedback! Hanna

  2. I adored how the creators recast an old Biblical anecdote. What a gift to have a book that encourages comprehension and participation amidst decent variety. his book is like the narrative of the Good Samaritan and I utilized it to help bring home the point that since somebody looks or think uniquely in contrast to you doesn't really make them terrible. Also, this subject is so required in our present reality! Judge less, and love more!

    1. Thank you, Eliza, for your comment! Yes this book is a beautiful retelling of Jesus' parable of The Good Samaritan, a story we all need now as much as they needed it then. I recently read in Marcus Borg's excellent book Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, that the purity laws may have prevented the first 2 men in the story from helping the injured man. This means that Jesus story was not just about how individuals should treat everyone. It was a critique of the "purity laws" of The Temple. That too is worth thinking about today. How does the concept of purity, as expressed by our churches, lead to us treating others poorly or with apathy and even contempt/hatred?

  3. However, all of this was simply on the surface. Aren't You My Neighbor? is a documentary about a new feeling. This is revealed to be profoundly embedded in Fred Rogers' thinking. This film is a must-see for anyone in need of a huge, motivating embrace (with some laughs thrown in for good measure).

  4. Anonymous11/15/2021

    The meaning of neighbour in Scripture has nothing to do with fences or property lines, as the Greek translation and the tale of the good Samaritan demonstrate. It is unconcerned about my tribe or who my neighbour is." After that, Jesus said, "A man travelled from Jerusalem to Jericho and into the midst of the thieves, stealing his garments.

    1. Thanks! Yes, the concept of neighbor is very expansive.

  5. Anonymous8/23/2023

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  7. Exploring the profound question, 'Who is My Neighbor, Mr. Rogers?' is akin to embarking on a journey of empathy and understanding. Much like the core principles of fairplay, Mr. Rogers' teachings resonate with the essence of kindness, respect, and inclusion