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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Hello, Neighbor. Matthew Cordell Brings the Life of Mr. Rogers to Life

If you could choose any children’s illustrator, past or present, to create a picture biography of you, whom would you choose? It’s a pity, but you don’t get to choose the people that tell the story of your life. The most you can hope for is that it will be someone who feels a kinship with you on some level. An artist that can see where you were coming from. Talent helps too. It would be nice if they had loads of it.

Half a year ago I heard that Caldecott Award winner Matthew Cordell was working on a picture book biography of Mr. Rogers. I did hear that. I hear a lot of news before it happens. Yet never in all my lifelong days have I heard of an upcoming picture book bio and thought to myself, “Well that makes sense. Mr. Rogers was a Matthew Cordell illustration brought to life anyway.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) it will be National Good Neighbor Day. To celebrate, USA Today is revealing the cover of Matthew’s May 2020 release Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mr. Rogers. Pretty spiffy, but why bring it up? Because I have something nifty up my sleeves as well.

I have interior spreads.

Thanks to the good folks at Holiday House, here are some shots of the upcoming book:

I’d like to zero in on this last spread for just a moment. I didn’t think this was possible, but Matthew actually managed to conjure up new memories when I looked at this picture. This is, without a doubt, the single best map and character chart of The Land of Make Believe I’ve ever seen. As someone who once wrote an entire piece on the weird subversion present in the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Amazingly, I had somehow forgotten about Cornelius and Bob Troll all these years. And do you see that purple panda?

I remember the purple panda episodes especially well. If the book mentions the operas too (no one ever remembers the operas, but they were my favorite part of the show) that’ll clinch it.

This is not the first Mr. Rogers picture book out there, and it will not be the last, but it may have a real crack at being the best. I cannot wait to see what 2020 brings.

Thanks to Matthew and Holiday House for the reveals.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Thanks so much, Betsy! What a wonderful piece!

  2. Laura Harrison says

    Ask any bookseller, librarian or children’s picture book reader and they will tell you this is the most anticipated kids book release of 2020. Matthew Cordell has been generous on his facebook page with glimpses of his preliminary sketches etc. for this title. I am sure Mister Rogers would have been thrilled with Cordell’s depiction of him and his real and imaginary worlds. Counting the days until Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mr. Rogers is released. Thank you Matthew Cordell, Holiday House and Neal Porter for this one!

  3. Wow… this is for-real goosebumps flattering, Betsy! Thank you so much for these very kind words!! And thank you too, Laura! ❤

  4. I love EVERYthing Matthew does, and I can tell you, there’s another “Fred Rogers” beauty on its way in 2020: FRED’S BEAUTIFUL NEIGHBORHOOD. Can’t wait for both! 😀

  5. Karen Maurer says

    The operas! Potato Bug? How could anyone forget the operas! We used to recreate them and make up our own, my son and I. Is Bob Dog in there? I NEED this book.


    The Mr. Rogers operas absolutely ruled. Bubble Opera forever!!!

  7. I knew more people remembered the operas than you thought! Hi, other Mister Rogers Opera Lovers!

    Bob Dog and Robert (Bob) Troll were the same guy, Bob Trow, who actually lived in the tiny town I grew up in. He’d hang out with a bunch of other Old Guys outside the corner store, and my mom was always like “Did you see who that was?” but to me he was some other person– I mean, that guy outside the Qwik Stop LOOKED like Bob Dog, sure, but he was just one of the Old Guys, right?