If you have a hankering for hockey, when the Gretzky family weighs in, sit up and listen.
This is a sports story about attitude, which can rarely be emphasized enough, because it rarely sinks in deep enough to leave its lasting mark. Young Taylor has made Wayne’s team—that’s “the kid they are already calling the Great One.” Taylor brings a world of enthusiasm with him, but he has plenty to learn, first and foremost that he has to stop trying to impress everyone else and stop pouting when he makes a mistake. Gretzky and Holomis keep the narrative simple, sticking to the cardinal rules: “You don’t start something and then quit…if you know you’re not the biggest or the fastest player, you work on being the smartest,” Coach Wally tells Taylor after a blunder. He goes on: “I picked you because you worked hard. You had a great attitude.” (Coach Wally is patterned after the Great One’s father.) Noting Coach Wally’s past tense, Taylor goes on to try to be the best he can be on a team that Sylvester has invested with brio and diversity: boys, girls, white kids, dark-skinned kids, one gentleman with purple locks. Sports will never deliver the most unless the words of Coach Wally are taken to heart: “As long as you have fun, work hard and do your best, that is all that matters.”
Fun and effort trump commercialization and competitiveness every time in sports, and this book tells a plain truth that Gretzky learned early. (Picture book. 4-8)