Michael Jordan's mother offers another lesson-laden story from her son's early years, following Michael's Golden Rules and Salt in His Shoes. It's 1972, Michael is nine, and his basketball obsession is being stoked by the U.S. basketball team's Olympic loss to Russia. Now Michael doesn't just want to be a basketball star; he wants to be an Olympic champion, too. But is he willing to give it everything he's got--after he's done with his homework, that is? Jordan's mantra of "dream big and work hard" isn't handled with much finesse or economy, and some readers may wish that all the firm yet supportive adults around Michael would let up a little. What rescues this book from its own sermonizing are Root's (Passing the Music Down) terrific sketch-style watercolor and gouache drawings. Their openheartedness and spontaneity almost seem as if Root were there as events unfolded. As drawn on these pages, Michael isn't a star in the making or the vessel for promulgating time-honored values. He's a living, breathing kid. Ages 4-8. Agent: Ronnie Ann Herman, the Herman Agency. (May)Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 1-4—This inspirational story focuses on the outside influences surrounding the athlete as a nine-year-old both at home and abroad. When the American basketball team loses its bid for a gold medal to Russia in the 1972 Olympics, young Jordan is watching, along with his brothers. Inspired by the close game, he informs his mother that he is going to be an Olympic champion. Through bits and pieces of conversation and parental admonitions, he learns how to achieve his goal with "a series of small steps." He is called a dreamer, but proves that he is a doer as well. His mother, his middle-school coach, his brother Larry, and a friend all contribute their words of wisdom that lead him to work toward his goal. The watercolor and gouache illustrations have a warm, almost golden tone that evoke the hovering, seemingly present gold medal. In the author's note, readers learn that Jordan achieved his goal in 1984. A timely publication just before the 2012 Olympics, this book could be paired with the author's previous story about her son, Salt in His Shoes (S & S, 2000).—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York CityCopyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.