From School Library Journal
Gr 2-4–NFL Quarterback Smith and author Kingsbury cowrote this semiautobiographical picture book about the sports star's path to success. The story tracks friends Alex and Bobby, who follow Alex's grandfather's advice to “Go ahead and dream.” It takes readers from the boys' elementary school days to their later successes as an NFL football player and a pilot. The message is hard to miss, with the stock character of the grandfather repeating his mantra every few pages. The illustrations have a too-perfect plastic quality and depict Alex's stable nuclear family complete with a mother in a dress serving pie to her Caucasian family while Bobby is described as a “foster child” and is illustrated as a brown person of ambiguous ethnicity. While this story may appeal to voracious football fans, the book does little to bring new light to the tired trope of “follow your dreams.”–Nora Clancy, Teachers College Community School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This fictionalized story about the childhood of NFL quarterback Alex Smith is used as an example of how to persevere and realize one’s aspirations. Alex and his best friend, Bobby, have seemingly impossible dreams—Alex hopes to be a football player and Bobby wants to be an airplane pilot. The problems: Alex is lousy at sports and Bobby, a foster child, has many issues that could jeopardize his future. The short narrative spotlights several instances in the boys’ adolescences when they become discouraged by their shortcomings. But each time, Alex’s grandpa cheers them on with a song about working hard, believing, and not giving up. The final scenes are of the boys as successful adults: Alex playing for the San Francisco 49ers and Bobby piloting a commercial airliner. Although the realistically styled illustrations are not dynamic and portray characters that appear way too perfect, they do competently capture crucial moments, giving snapshots of the action as it unfolds in the text. Corny? Definitely, but useful where simple stories are needed to provide encouragement. Grades 2-4. --Randall Enos