John Cena was in attendance at BookCon 2019 to discuss his soon to be released children's book, Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla.
In a sit-down discussion (included above), the WWE Superstar shed some light on the new project as well as the messaging embedded in its predecessor, 2018's Elbow Grease.
For those unfamiliar, Elbow Grease tells the story of "a little monster truck, who although smaller than his four brothers, wants to prove that he has the guts and the grit to do big things. He decides that entering the Demolition Derby is the perfect way to show everyone that what he lacks in horsepower he makes up for in gumption."
"Never Give Up." It's a credo that adorns every piece of branding Cena has and is what he credits for getting him where he is today. This way of thinking is woven into the fabric of the story and he credits psychologists such as Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck who encourage the teaching and practicing of growth mindset with children from a very early age. Simply put, skills and goals can be developed and achieved through hard work, dedication, and resiliency.
In regards to the book, Cena points out that “It's not about finishing the race first. No one thinks he can finish, period.” There is an effort being made to recontextualize competition and throw out the notion that failure can only be bad.
"Often times we get disappointed and frustrated with ourselves if we're not the very best and we compare ourselves to the results of others. But, you should be challenging you every day. Essentially, every day is a battle of you against you. It's about you harnessing your energy to try and do things you never thought were possible."
What's more, Cena wants all of his young readers to know that it's okay to be vulnerable, it's okay to be different, and that anyone can be anything. The language used to convey these ideas is purposefully subtle, but the hope is that, for the unbiased child, it's something that will resonate and have a positive impact on their lives.
Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla will be published on October 8, 2019, from Random House, featuring illustrations by Howard McWilliam.