Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares
This biographical picture book takes a look at Babe Ruth’s formative years. It is the story of a small boy named George Herman Ruth who gets into lots of trouble, so much that his father puts him into Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. There he has to follow the rules and work hard. Happily, there is also baseball and George gets to play it almost every day. Best of all, there is Brother Matthias who serves as an inspiration and mentor for George’s baseball game and life. As George gets better and better, he is finally whisked into the world of major league baseball, but he never forgot the school and the man who got him there.
Tavares writes in such an engaging way that the pages fly by. The sudden sternness of the school is told in short, abrupt sentences that enforce the martial feel of the establishment. That contrasts directly with the long sentences that talk about the beauty of baseball. Readers can almost feel themselves taking a big gulp of freedom on those pages.
The joy Tavares feels about his subject is also palpable. From eating ice cream with the boys from the school, to tipping his hat to them as he walks on the field, to the pleasure of hitting a ball, all are captured with a fondness and pleasure in the paintings that are the illustrations in the book.
This is a baseball biography that children will find accessible and fascinating. Play ball! Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.