Kid Coach and Dad learn the meaning of true championship in this debut picture book.
Young Kid Coach trains his skinny, couch-potato dad for the ultimate competition “in the grandest arena of them all—Wrestle-Rumble Mania Kingdom Tournament of Champions.” Dad throws down against a series of flamboyant, muscled “guys”—big, bad, and bald. Each time, Dad wins with his inescapable “Tater Tangler,” but during all his training, Kid Coach forgot to teach Dad how a victor treats fellow competitors. Dad dances too long and refuses to shake hands. Large, flashy illustrations capture the playful energy of the narration and lend to sharing the book with a storytime audience. Repetition also increases the read-aloud appeal. Mixing it with potato humor, Justus presents a valuable lesson about integrity and kindness. The wrestlers don’t care about the gifts or high-fives Dad offers to make up for his behavior until he gives a sincere apology. Unfortunately, the book lacks diversity. Both Kid Coach and Dad are white, and white (or, oddly, purple or pink) characters outnumber the two people of color depicted in the illustrations. One of them is black, and the other wears a Mexican lucha libre mask. Additionally, the text refers to all the wrestlers as “guys” and the competition as a “Kingdom,” so there are presumably no other genders represented in the story.
A lively story with a positive message—but not a true champion of inclusion. (Picture book. 3-7)