About the Holiday
Today’s holiday was established in 1972 by President Richard Nixon to honor the men and women who inspire us to work harder and do our best in many of life’s pursuits. Coaches help us develop a good work ethic, learn how to work as a team, and learn how to focus and achieve goals. Sometimes our most influential coaches can be surprising—as you’ll see in today’s book.
Thanks to Page Street Kids for sending me a copy of Kid Coach for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own.
By Rob Justus
Kid Coach knew a challenge when he saw it. And he saw a couch-potato sized challenge lying in his own living room with soda in one hand and a computer, a tablet, and a phone all streaming a different wrestling match in the other. And…yeah…there was a bowl of peanuts there too. Was Kid Coach up to the task of turning this marshmallow into a champion? He thought yes and dragged his dad away from all the distractions.
Kid Coach started his dad’s strength training with simple push-ups and an itty-bitty bar bell. But soon those “small wins” led to “bigger challenges and major wins” until Kid Coach and Dad were ready to “wrangle big guys, bad guys, bald guys, (and a scary guy with tattoos of big, bad, bald guys!) in the grandest arena of them all”—the “Wrestle-Rumble Mania Kingdom Tournament of Champions.”
At the match the competition is fierce, but Dad “snaps into action” and soon those big, bad, and bald guys in their fancy costumes are being flipped, chopped, and tied into knots. Kid Coach cheers him on, whistling and clapping, until he begins to notice something. “Dad starts to dance a little too long, celebrate a little too much, and rudest of all…he won’t even shake hands! Instead of making friends, Dad’s leaving the other wrestlers sad and mad.
That’s when Kid Coach does some soul-searching and realizes he didn’t teach his dad everything about being a true champion. A real champion, he knows, is a leader, someone who inspires others, and “most of all, they make everyone feel like a winner.” By now, Dad was feeling kind of bad himself for being so insensitive. Kid Coach gave him a hug, and the two of them tried to make amends. But the other wrestlers didn’t want flowers, and they weren’t interested in high-fives. So, Dad dug deep and came up with…a “sincere apology” and…a jumbo bag of chips! Now all those frowns have turned into smiles and everyone’s having a blast in the ring.
Rob Justus reminds children about good sportsmanship and the qualities that make for a true champion in his visually exhilarating story. Kids will be all in with the couch-potato twist in which a child physically drags his dad—who holds on for dear life—from his leisurely pursuits.
Images of this noodle-thin dad in his flashy robe going up against some real heavyweights will have kids giggling, and his over-the-top celebrations will elicit plenty of laughs. But Justus doesn’t let this behavior go without showing its effects on the other wrestlers—and ultimately on Dad too. As Kid Coach and his dad try to mend fences with the other competitors, kids will see that gifts and token gestures aren’t as meaningful as a straightforward apology. The loving relationship between the boy and his dad is a highlight of the story, and will have readers—kids and adults—engaging in some rough-and-tumble play and plenty of snuggles.
For rambunctious story times with an inspirational life lesson, Kid Coach will be an often-asked-for addition to home, school, and public library collections.
Ages 4 – 8
Page Street Kids, 2020 | ISBN 978-1624148866
To learn more about Rob Justus and see a portfolio of his work, visit his website.
National Coaches Day Activity
Best Dad Coloring Page
Good coaches win lots of trophies, and there’s no better coach than Dad! Let your dad know what a great coach he is with this printable coloring page!
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Picture Book Review