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Reviewed by Savannah Aldridge for Readers' Favorite
Charlie the Champion by K.R. King is a story about hard work and a mindset change written for a young audience. In the African savannah, Charlie the Cheetah watches his father win races and daydreams that he could one day win one too. However, he is not fit and strong like his father, and the other animals bully him by calling him chubby until Charlie thinks of himself as a failure. One day, after the other animals overwhelm Charlie with their taunts, he decides to fight against their meanness and chase his dreams. Charlie begins to train for his goal with regular practice and only allows himself to say kind and positive things about who he is. When the big race arrives, Charlie is tempted to give up when he slips behind the lead, but he keeps fighting and believing to the finish line.
K.R. King’s Charlie the Champion is an excellent way to help children understand the power they have to reach their dreams. I loved seeing Charlie grow from resignation that he would never win a race and would always be what the bullies said he was, to believe that he had value, was worthy of positive self-talk, and was capable of making his dream come true. The illustrations of Charlie and his world are vibrant, clear, and so much fun, with familiar animals and lovely settings that children will adore. Even as an adult, I felt motivated to speak more kindly to myself and work harder for my dreams after meeting Charlie. This is a fantastic educational book for early readers to tackle alone, but an even better one to read and discuss with the grown-ups in their lives.