With a kid who is about to leave for university, there are just less opportunities for me personally to head into the children’s section at our local library.

Then, every so often, I hunt around for wrestling related books that I might have missed.

In this case, I came across the graphic novel by Steph Mided, Club Kick Out!: Into the Ring — and I’m glad I did.

It’s a pretty delightful tale, with both an accessible (and mostly believable) story and strong, colorful, but straightforward artwork, that has at least some influence from anime. There are some laughs in there too.

The protagonists are 7th grade students at a middle school where funding has been cut for everything but sports.

A group of friends, who used to have a club together at the school, now are searching for something else to do, and through happenstance end up at the local wrestling matches.

The seed is planted in their creative minds to start a pro wrestling club, since the principal couldn’t possibly see a flaw in that plan. They get a very overqualified adult supervisor from the school (no spoilers!) and start the club, building to a massive show in front of the student body.

Then there’s the usual stuff for 12-14 year olds, dealing with parents and siblings, crushes, friendships and falling outs, which never weigh down the narrative.

What resonated with this long-time wrestling fan, though, was the respect that was given to pro wrestling.

At no point is it ever treated like a joke. The students are taught the basics like you would be at a legitimate wrestling school: be healthy, take care of your body, get in shape, learn to fall and lock-up. There’s miles to go before you jump off the top rope.

We all know those wannabes, the newbies, who have the idea for all that they will accomplish in the ring before actually learning how to be a wrestler.

Now, it’s ridiculously condensed timeline-wise for the sake of the story, which I can accept.

Some of the things that made me go hmmm though, include the wrestling promoter/trainer allowing underage trainees so easily (though credit to Mided for including a panel where the students had to get parental permission), and the same promoter lending out his ring without apparently any sort of fee. By no means do those take away from the book, though.

Club Kick Out!: Into the Ring, which came out in September 2023, from the Harper Alley imprint, is aimed at kids 8-12, though even veterans, like me, will get a kick (out!) from it.