Thursday, August 13, 2009

You Can Do It!

It's almost time for school to begin, so, of course, all of the "back to school" PBs are checked out from my local library. This has been a hectic week for me which means I didn't take time to browse any book stores either.

But I think a relatively new PB about a kid who keeps getting into trouble at school might work for this week's selection.

You Can Do It! by Coach Tony Dungy was published in 2008 by Little Simon Inspirations. The story is illustrated by Amy June Bates. I particularly like the expressive faces she gave the characters. Each scene really makes me feel that I'm in the midst of a regular, real life middle class family.

You Can Do It! is a childhood story about Coach Dungy's younger brother, Linden, who has a problem--actually, he has three problems. The first is minor in the scope of the universe; Linden has a toothache. The second problem sweeps out and encircles many children--he's always getting into trouble at school for making his classmates laugh. The third problem is the REAL problem of the story. Linden's doesn't know what his "it" is. His brother and sisters all know exactly what their "it" is--what their dream is--what their goal for the future is. Linden has no idea and this really bothers him.

The author of this PB has done a good job of braiding Linden's three problems into an inspiring story. As the plot takes a couple of minor twists Linden discovers the solution to all three problems in one place--the family dentist's office.

You Can Do It! is a quiet PB. No fast action. No excitement. No danger. No heavy drama or emotion. No big climax. For that reason I don't know just how much "kid-appeal" it actually has. The well known author's name might attract elementary aged boys to pick the book up, but I don't think it can hold their interest all the way to the end.

The book definitely has parent-appeal. It delivers a wonderful message to kids of having faith in God and in their dreams. I believe it is a great conversation starter between parents and kids. It is also a bit long for industry standards at this time (or so "they" tell me). I guess-timate it at 1200-1300 words.

Dungy's message is certainly a needed one for kids today. But, I actually disagree with many educational experts who propose that students start thinking about careers in kindergarten and first grade. I'm old, but I still remember the FUN of being a kid, of thinking about today, about swimming holes and swing sets and bicycles instead of thinking about my college and career plans. I actually never gave a single thought to college until tenth grade! Unheard of today!

But, hey! I still make my own bread and jam, and grow my own tomatoes. I actually bake cookies and cakes from scratch instead of boxes and plastic freezer packs, too. So what do I know anyway?

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