Linden is having an awful day. He's trying to pay attention to his teacher, Mrs. Lee, but he's suffering from a terrible toothache. His friends laugh when he makes a funny duck sound - Linden likes making people smile - but Mrs. Lee is not amused. As he walks home from school with his brother Tony, a star athlete, Linden wonders if he'll ever have any special talents. Tony offers encouragement, "Whatever it is that you want to do, you can do it. Trust God and dream big!"With You Can Do It!, Tony Dungy, former NFL player and current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, has fashioned a warm and wise tale, complemented by the joyous watercolor illustrations of Amy June Bates. Dungy is clearly inspired by his own family's unwavering faith and support of each other's ambitions. Now a father and respected mentor, Dungy fondly recalls his brother's search for a dream of his own.
As the boys return home, Mom and Dad are ready to help Linden find his "it." Dad explains, "Your it is what you love to do. And it's something God has given you the talent to do. That's what makes it so special."A trip to the dentist proves to be fateful for young Linden. "I love to make people smile," Dr. Clarke shares, and Linden lights up with revelation. Only a few weeks later, he finds himself standing before his class, in full dental regalia, enthusiastically explaining what he'd learned from Dr. Clarke.
Dungy's book is a lighthearted but effective lesson in perseverance, conviction and the importance of finding sustenance in a family's belief system. His gentle storytelling will remind readers that dreams are often fulfilled in unexpected ways. Indeed, a postscript reveals that Linden did grow up to become a dentist!
Ellen Trachtenberg is a freelance writer who is helping her young sons find their "it."