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Friday, October 30, 2009

Eric Carle Blog Post

While you may not immediately recognize his name, I'm sure you are familiar with the work of Eric Carle. Mr. Carle is the creator of the very well-known children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

In a recent post on his blog, Mr. Carle briefly reflected on his interactions with Fred Rogers and his appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. A segment of this visit to the Neighborhood can be seen on the revamped PBS Mister Rogers website.

Visit Mr. Carle's blog to read his brief comments about Mister Rogers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You're Growing Chart [1974]

At my house, when I was a kid, we kept track of our growth by standing in the door frame of our bedrooms and scratching a small line into the wood. I can't help but think something like this would have been a much less destructive method. The You're Growing Chart has shown up on eBay a few times recently. Produced in 1974 by Small World Enterprises, this chart is intended to track the growth and developments of children -- not just physically, but emotionally and socially as well. According to the back of the package:
This is one of a series of products developed in cooperation with Fred M. Rogers, creator of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," the award-winning public television program for children. Both the program and the materials based on it encourage children to be themselves, to imagine, to create, to cope with feelings and new ideas -- and through all these things, to learn and to grow.
Attached to the wall, this growing chart will provide a visual celebration of your child's growth -- not only in inches, but in physical skills, social development, inner growth, and other landmarks that give a feeling of pleasure and a sense of achievement. In years to come, the chart will be a permanent keepsake of one child's unique and special growth.
The stickers included obviously mark each year of a child's life, but the package also includes other stickers such as the ones seen below -- "I am 5 years old", "Sometimes I share my toys", I can use the telephone", and "I'm learning to wait on my turn." Also included in the 54 stickers were blank stickers for children to mark their own important achievements and events.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Talk About It [1976]

In the late 1970's, a series of books and videos were produced to help children understand and feel more comfortable with a few common medical scenarios. We have looked at a few of these books in the past -- Let's Talk About Going to the Hospital and Let's Talk About Having an Operation. Although I have never seen it, I can only assume that there is a book to go along with the third title from this series, Let's Talk About Wearing a Cast.

The Let's Talk About It series was produced by Family Communications through the support of Johnson & Johnson Baby Products as well as the McFeely-Rogers Foundation (Latrobe, PA). Major cooperation was also received from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association.

While each of these videos takes place in Mister Rogers' television home, the structure of each "episode" is significantly different from a typical visit to the Neighborhood. Each video opens with Mister Rogers entering to the instrumental theme of I Like to Be Told. After introducing himself to viewers ("Hello, I'm Mister Rogers. I like to talk with people about important things."), Mister Rogers spends the next 20 minutes discussing the feelings that children might have when dealing with these medical experiences. His talk with viewers is divided throughout various video clips of children in these situations along with calming conversations with experts in the medical field.

Entering to I Like to Be Told could not be more fitting for these videos. It is very obvious from the detail he covers that Mister Rogers placed a great deal of importance on children being informed. Children deserve to have a sense of comfort and an understanding of their experiences -- especially times such as these when a child is likely unsure. While these videos are comforting to children, Mister Rogers does not sugarcoat the topics and is very direct and honest about what children might experience.

Let's Talk About Having an Operation

Mister Rogers opens by telling viewers that he has had some recent conversations with doctors about what it's like to have an opreation. He clarifies the terms "operation" and "surgeon" ("Sometimes it's the best way that a doctor knows of helping people who are sick on the inside of them. You know, under their skin.") before moving on and sharing what he has learned about having an operation. Mister Rogers narrates a film about a little girl named Laura who has recently had an operation. Showing a picture of Laura, Mister Rogers pointedly mentions that the picture was taken of her after she came home from the hospital (so as to show young viewers that she is okay, even after the operation). Laura's surgery was needed in order to fix a hernia -- likely the inspiration for the surgery needed by Daniel Tiger in Let's Talk About Going to the Hospital.

Mister Rogers walks viewers through Laura's entire experience beginning with the doctor's explanation of the surgery and concluding with her recovery. The film includes specific details such as the anesthetic ("a special medicine to make you sleepy") and the fact that "on her way down the hall [to the operating room], Laura could see the ceiling because she was lying on her back." Mister Rogers, as expected, does a terrific job of providing details on anything that a child might wonder about.

Back at the house, Mister Rogers explains that just like with most "hurt," an operations hurts most at first and then "each day after, you feel a little better until you're well again." He focuses on the importance of asking questions when you are unsure and lets viewers know that grown-ups can help explain things to them. This leads into the song I Like to Be Told.

The video is concluded in typical Mister Rogers fashion: "Some children wonder if they might be a different person after their operation. Well that just doesn't happen. You're the only person in the whole world like you. Only you can have your own special thoughts and feelings. No one can change who you really are. People like you just the way you are and I'm proud of the way you're growing."
Below is the supplemental book published to go along with this video:

© 1976 Family Communications

Let's Talk About Going to the Hospital

Mister Rogers opens by having a conversation with Daniel Tiger about what a hospital is and why people might need to go to the hospital. Using a picture of Daniel talking with Handyman Negri, Mister Rogers moves into a time of Make-Believe where Daniel is feeling nervous after being told that he needs to go to the hospital.

Dr. Bill Platypus has discovered that Daniel has a hernia and needs an operation. Handyman Negri helps Daniel realize that the people at the hospital will help him feel better and that he will be able to return to the comforts of his clock very soon. Back at the house for a moment, Mister Rogers talks with Daniel about the fact that going to the hospital doesn't hurt, but in order for people to feel better, sometimes doctors and nurses need to do things that do hurt. Returning to Make-Believe, Daniel is relieved to be home from his stay in the hospital.

Viewers then see a film segment about the hospital. The film is narrated by Mister Rogers who explains what children might see if they ever need to go to the hospital. He is very honest with viewers and is sure to validate their emotions: "People in the hospital are interested in all kinds of growing. This little girl is getting weighed and measured. It doesn't hurt. Everybody who stays in the hospital has to have a blood test, too, and that's something that does hurt. Of course, it's okay to cry if you want to. But if you hold still, it will be over all the faster."

After looking at a model of a children's hospital bed, Mister Rogers moves on to the next film about children in their hospital beds. He shows a wide variety of things that children might do in a hospital bed such as eating, drawing, and even using a bed pan.

Following the film, Mister Rogers shows a few common pieces of equipment that doctors and nurses use such as a thermometer and an otoscope. This leads into the next film which shows doctors and nurses using their tools with patients.

Mister Rogers mentions that some children may only need to stay in the hospital a short time while others may stay longer if they are "very very sick." He comforts viewers by letting them know that the reason they might be in the hospital is so that their "mothers and fathers and doctors and nurses can all work together to take good care of [them]."

Moving on to a more light-hearted topic, Mister Rogers shows a film about young patients playing in the hospital.

Concluding, Mister Rogers departs with a few comforting and familiar words: "Usually children don't have to do hard things all by themselves. . .We grown-ups care about children like you and we believe our caring helps you to grow. And you help us, too. You know how? By just your being yourself. There's only one person in the whole world like you. I hope you're proud of the way you're growing."

As you can see below, the front cover of the Going to the Hospital companion book represents the video very well. Complete in detail down to the color of Mister Rogers' sweater and tie, the drawing on the book's cover was clearly designed straight from the video footage.

© 1976 Family Communications

Let's Talk About Wearing a Cast

Arriving with a cast, Mister Rogers shows viewers how it once fit on his arm: "It's a strong, hard bandage." He explains that doctors sometimes use a cast on an injury to hold that part of the body very still and help it to heal. Mister Rogers reveals that he has never really needed a cast but he wanted to learn about them by having one put on his arm. He reflects on this experience by showing a clip from an episode from the Neighborhood program.

As Mister Rogers' doctor friend, Dr. Clark, explains the process, she applies a cast to his right forearm.

After watching the clip, Mister Rogers demonstrates a sling. Leaving no detail uncovered, Mister Rogers goes on to talk about how a person's skin often feels itchy under a cast.

Going back to the video clip, Mister Rogers remembers going to the hospital to have his cast removed.

After this clip is finished, Mister Rogers talks about how children who are wearing casts can still do many things. He shows a short film of young people with casts on as they perform everyday tasks. The film is set to an instrumental of Children Can.

Mister Rogers reminds viewers that, unlike a broken toy, a broken bone can heal itself: "You're not a toy. You're a person. A very important person. Even if you need to wear a cast your body will keep on growing just as your feelings and ideas keep on growing everyday. People like you just the way you are. I'm glad that we could have this special visit together."

© 1976 Family Communications

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Neighborhood of Make-Believe Back in Action!

From Pittsburgh-Post Gazette:

Mister Rogers week shaping up
The first week of November will be a busy one for fans of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

On Nov. 5, "A Tribute to Children" will be unveiled and dedicated on the North Shore at 10:30 a.m. The site will feature a statue of Fred Rogers. Refreshments will be served from 9:30-10:15 a.m.

Then on Nov. 7 and 8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., WQED will invite the public in to see the re-assembled set from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe at the WQED studios in Oakland.

Here's what those who attend will see, per WQED:
King Friday XIII's Castle; "X" the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat's Tree; Curator Lady Elaine Fairchilde's Museum Go-Round; Cornflake S. Pecially's "Rockit" Factory; Grandpere's Eiffel Tower; Dr. Duckbill, Elsie Jean and Ana Platypus' Mound; and a small replica of Daniel Tiger's Clock. The original clock currently resides at Saint Vincent's College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media.
Tours will last about 10 minutes and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be no tickets.

Mister McFeely (David Newell) will be on hand for autographs and pictures with the exception of a one-hour lunch break at noon both days. Free parking will be available at Central Catholic High School, 4720 Fifth Avenue. Details on how to access parking, directions and more of what to expect can be found on a page of the WQED Web site.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mister Rogers' Songbook [1970]

The Mister Rogers' Songbook was published in the early 1970's and provided parents the opportunity to make the most of the musical works of Fred Rogers. With nineteen songs included, this book is made up of comments, lyrics, and sheet music for many of Mister Rogers' best-known songs.

For more on this book, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Live Event [1974]

A few days ago, I stumbled upon another candid treasure from a first-hand encounter with Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Much like the snapshots Lawrence shared with us from his childhood visit to the Neighborhood set and those generously contributed by Rashidi Barnett, I found the snapshots below to be equally fascinating. Contacting Neil Fein, the owner of these images, for permission to share them, I was provided the following information:
"I think my father was probably the photographer. I don't know when or where the pictures were taken, but it was probably in the early 1970's, somewhere in the NY/NJ area, possibly in New York City."
Feel free to view Neil's original Flickr album or enjoy these priceless snapshots below. Many thanks for sharing...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good Morning Captain [1996]

In the course of recently reading Good Morning, Captain: Fifty Wonderful Years with Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo, I came across two images featuring a couple of childrens' television's founding fathers (By the way, I highly recommend this book to anyone who grew up watching Captain Kangaroo).

More interesting that that, however, was the quote from Fred Rogers about Bob Keeshan found in the sixth chapter:
"Even though Bob and I visited each other's on-air 'neighborhoods,' we know one another best off the air. For instance, we have a tradition of talking on the phone, no matter where we are in the world, every New Year's Day. We've had those New Year's conversations for more than thirty years! We feel it's a good way to start each year.
"This past January 1, we talked about our grandchildren; and, of course, child advocacy, which Bob has always helped to further. It's just a fact that Bob Keeshan is a wondeful human being who has made, and continues to make, an important difference in the lives of American children. I'm glad that he and I grew up -- on and off television -- together."

Keeshan, Bob. Good Morning Captain: 50 Wondeful Years with Bob Keeshan. Minneapolis, MN: Fairview Press, 1996.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Episode 1125 - Pineapples and Tomatoes [1970]

Original Air Date: April 24, 1970

For details on Episode 1125, visit the Neighborhood Archive.