Professional-wrestler siblings encourage tenacity.
Brothers Matt and Nick Jackson convey their unwavering determination to become wrestlers despite their small stature. As ardent young aficionados, the siblings live for the sport until their confidence is challenged by a bully in a hoodie who tells them they are “too small to be wrestlers.” Matt and Nick try a number of gently comic stunts to foster growth, including eating mountains of spinach and broccoli, planting themselves like trees, and attempting to stretch themselves with helium-filled balloons. Eventually—and predictably—the pair’s positive attitude and perseverance prevail after a chance encounter with a professional wrestler buoys their spirits. Illustrator Coburn fills softly focused, full-color, large panels with an emphasis on faces over action. While reaffirming positivity and condemning bullying is a pleasant-enough message, the Jacksons’ mild offering lacks any real depth. Although the brothers’ height is the critical plot point, set alongside their peers, they appear to be the same size, or at least not markedly smaller. The “elite” cast is almost exclusively male and mostly white. Girls and children of color are nearly wholly absent save for brown-skinned pal Marty and a sporadic flash here and there in a crowd scene.
Moments of fun are present, but surely there are better and more inclusive choices for young wrestling fans. (Graphic fiction. 4-7)