My adoration for Curtis Granderson began to develop ever since he suited up the pinstripes. Once he homered in Opening Day against the Red Sox in 2010, I was sold. And ever since then, he has given me more and more reasons to love him – especially after his MVP-worthy 2011 effort. What’s not to like about the guy? He’s a real professional – the epitome of what it means to be a Yankee. He was voted one of the friendliest players in baseball by his fellow ballplayers. He’s friendly, but maybe not if you’re an opposing pitcher. The guy can hit. Like, well. And he’s been known to flash the leather. And okay, maybe I have a little “thing” for him…I mean just look at him. He’s adorable. Gotta love that smile. And he’s so smart. I could listen to him talk or watch him play all day long…

I didn’t really think it was possible to admire Curtis Granderson any more than I did. But I came home yesterday to a package at my door from Brad, the young man behind The King Of Sports Blog here on fanvsfan. It was Curtis Granderson’s book, “All You Can Be: Learning & Growing Through Sports.” Brad thought I’d enjoy reviewing it. He was right.

Needless to say, my infatuation with Curtis Granderson has blossomed even further. “All You Can Be” gets two thumbs up from me.

“All You Can Be” is a children’s book written by Curtis Granderson that consists of Granderson’s lessons to the youth. He shares his personal experiences to give the children further reason to listen to his advice. Although I still consider myself a kid, I’m technically an adult, but I still enjoyed this book. I think “All You Can Be” is an inspirational book for people of all ages, even though it was targeted to the youth. The lessons Granderson shares and the values he wants to instill transcend the scope of time.

The book is creatively arranged so that each chapter is a different “inning” in the game of valuable lessons. Inning one is “Have Fun,” followed by, “Choose the Right Friends,” “Play with Passion,” “Be a Leader,” “Value Your Family,” “Be Yourself,” “Listen and Learn,” “Think Positive,” with the 9th inning as “Never Be Satisfied.” On each page front- and-back prior to the start of a new chapter, there is a selected piece of artwork from a talented student of a New York City Public School. These pieces represent the students’ interpretations of their corresponding chapters.  A section entitled “Extra Innings: Dream Big!” consists of eight more honorable mention works of art. Placed within the text, Granderson includes personal photographs of his youth that complement the theme of the chapter.

Along with being beautifully arranged, Granderson’s “All You Can Be” is reader-friendly. The 48-page book is easy to read and moves very quickly. The font is big enough that my Grandma read it with ease (and she too enjoyed it). Granderson highlights key ideas throughout the text in red italic fonts. My favorite part was in the chapter “Be Yourself,” where Granderson recalls being self-conscious about his big “clown feet.” How could people have picked on Curtis Granderson in school? It didn’t bother him for long, though. It just created another lesson for him to share with us.

The ideas presented in this book are things kids should hear everywhere: follow the right people, never give up, be confident in yourself, etc. Then why is this book so special? I think it’s because Granderson shares his personal experiences with us. Kids might think, “Yeah, yeah, everyone says that stuff.” But when Curtis Granderson says it, and he proves that it worked for him, we’re all probably more apt to listen. Granderson stressed the fact that although we are all from different backgrounds and are raised in different environments, we all go through the same things in life. That’s why it is important to listen to people, because they’ve been through it, and can help you learn from their experiences. The values may be simple, but they are solid. And they are the values that got Granderson to where he is today – not only in the professional sense, but in the personal sense as well.

I love the fact that Curtis Granderson always wants to give back. I always thought he was nice, but after reading “All You Can Be,” I knew it was no façade. Curtis Granderson is a genuinely compassionate man with solid values, and his words in this book come from the heart. The stories he shares are ones I think we all can relate to. I know I wasn’t always as confident in myself as I am today, but as Granderson assured, through the love of those who care for me, I’ve grown to really believe in myself, just as he has. In a way, it’s somewhat comforting to know that even a guy as seemingly-perfect as Curtis Granderson has dealt with the same things as we have.

Even though this is a children’s book, I think everyone can learn from it. Granderson teaches the young generation what is important, and reminds us older people that adapting those simple ideas makes us grow to all we can think we be, and then keep on growing.

Curtis Granderson’s “All You Can Be” is a simple yet inspirational work.  I’d like to thank Brad for providing me with this opportunity. Read his blog at http://www.thekingofsportsblog and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/brad_wolff.

And thank you, Curtis my sweet, for all the great work you do both on and off the diamond.

105 days until pitchers and catchers report. Enjoy the offseason, Curtis!

by Virginia Califano