Friday, June 17, 2011

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things
© 1989 Robert Fulghum
196 pages

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor
-- would you be mine, could you be mine?

Imagine that Mr. Rogers wrote a book. This is it. Within its two covers is an afternoon spent on a big wooden porch, sipping lemonade and listening to the sounds of children playing while quietly talking about what 'really matters'  with a contagiously good-humored and gentle man. Fulghum's utterly relaxed writing style (employing the short, staggered thoughts and run-on sentences of human speech) and lack of an overt structure make it more a conversation about life, love, and values than a book with a pronounced point, but that's all right, because it's perfectly enjoyable and even comforting in the same way that watching Mr. Rogers is. His musings call the reader to mindfulness and gentility, but he's not preachy. Instead, Fulghum's character inspires emulation:  he's just so gosh-darned pleasant, and his stories have an utterly frank, authentic simplicity about them. I don't know that I'll remember the stories a few months from now, but like a bowl of hot soup the book warmed me inside.

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