Reviews for Becoming Babe Ruth

Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
*Starred Review* On the cover portrait of this picture-book biography, George Herman Ruth's eyes twinkle so realistically, one expects the famous wink. Inside, this exceptionally engaging chronicle recounts Ruth's amazing rags-to-riches story, from his early family troubles and placement at age seven into Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys to his triumphant career with the New York Yankees. The narrative wisely telescopes much of his baseball career, citing a few professional feats, explaining the origin of his nickname, and vividly capturing his larger-than-life celebrity status, including his enormous appetite, undisciplined lifestyle, and boyish charm. But there's also an emphasis on Ruth's time at St. Mary's and the critical influence of the school's Brother Matthias. The story comes full circle, closing with Ruth's generosity to the school after a disastrous fire. Well-researched, realistic illustrations, rendered in watercolor, gouache, and pencil, depict early-twentieth-century life and Major League Baseball during Ruth's era. Equally important, the art captures Ruth's irrepressible personality and joy in playing baseball. Yes, the eyes definitely twinkle. Back matter includes a chart of statistics, author's note, and bibliography. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Tavares profiles the iconic George Herman "Babe" Ruth, shining a light on the flamboyant slugger's charitable side. The author-illustrator expertly conveys Ruth's charm through mixed-media illustrations--the boyish grin, the huge appetite (one humorous scene features Ruth in front of an outlandish spread at a restaurant), the love of the game he played so well. A standout sports picture-book biography. Stats are appended. Bib.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #1
Is there a bigger baseball fan in the children's literature world than Matt Tavares? His sixth book on the subject profiles the iconic George Herman "Babe" Ruth, with Tavares shining a light on the flamboyant slugger's charitable side. In Baltimore at the turn of the twentieth century, young George's delinquent ways land him at Saint Mary's, a local industrial boarding school. There he meets Brother Matthias, whose majestic home runs in the schoolyard enthrall young George. Matthias tirelessly coaches George on the baseball fundamentals, and soon George leaves school and becomes "the Babe," capturing the imagination of the American public with his booming home runs and even bigger personality. But when a fire destroys his old school, Ruth shows that he hasn't forgotten his roots: he invites the Saint Mary's band on a Yankees road trip, helping to raise money to rebuild the school. Tavares expertly conveys Ruth's charm through mixed-media illustrations -- the boyish grin, the huge appetite (one humorous spread features Ruth in front of an outlandish spread at a restaurant), the love of the game he played so well. Tavares brings the well-paced story to a close with the now-world-famous Babe returning to Saint Mary's to put on an impromptu slugging exhibition for the boys, similar to the ones Brother Matthias gave that so enchanted George as a boy. It's a lovely, poignant ending to a standout sports picture book biography. Appended with an author's note, baseball stats, and a bibliography. sam bloom

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #1
An homage to the Bambino introduces a new audience to this great legend of baseball. Babe Ruth's baseball skills changed the game forever, and his story reads like a movie script. Seven-year-old George, not quite an orphan, is placed by his father in the St. Mary's Industrial School because he is unmanageable and incorrigible. The regimented life there is beneficial if not so much to George's liking, but Brother Matthias teaches him baseball and hones his considerable skills. At 19, he is signed by the minor league Baltimore Orioles, where he is renamed Babe for his wide-eyed, enthusiastic embrace of his new life. From Baltimore to Boston to the New York Yankees, in a time before television and Facebook, he becomes a celebrity of monumental proportions. Tavares is careful to include all the relevant information, focusing on Ruth's exploits on the field as well as his charitable nature--he helps St. Mary's rebuild after a devastating fire--while presenting his fast and furious lifestyle as part of his charm and appeal. Watercolor, gouache and pencil illustrations in yellows, greens and shades of amber against bright blue or shining white backgrounds depict a glowing Ruth glorying in his accomplishments. Tavares allows young readers to view Ruth with just the right amount of hero worship and awe. Flamboyant and amazingly talented, the Sultan of Swat receives due appreciation here. (author's note, statistics chart, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #3

Even legends start out small, and for George "Babe" Ruth, those early years were bleak. A troublemaker, he's sent away to Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys, where strict discipline is a way of life: "They eat breakfast in compete silence. If they talk, they might get whipped," writes Tavares, who previously profiled big-leaguers in There Goes Ted Williams and Henry Aaron's Dream. But Saint Mary's is also where George discovers his gift for baseball, thanks to the tough love of Brother Matthias. When Saint Mary's later falls on hard times, the Babe, now making "the largest sum any team has ever paid for a baseball player," uses his celebrity to help the institution get on its feet again. Tavares continues to prove he's a double threat, with a concise, forthright writing style and expansive, sepia-toned watercolors that bring to mind vintage photos and newsreels. The tableau style, while handsome, is perhaps too tidy and constraining; Tavares conveys a sense of scale, but not spirit--and that's important for the man who all but defined "larger-than-life personality." Ages 5-8. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

Gr 1-3--Tavares features the "Sultan of Swat" in this picture-book biography. When George Herman Ruth was seven years old, his father sent him away to a reformatory to keep him out of trouble. At the end of the school day, when all the schoolwork was done, he was taught to play baseball by Father Matthias. Ruth began his career at age 16 when he signed a contract to play for the then minor-league Baltimore Orioles. Characteristic of Tavares's attractive painterly style, the watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations stand out with their action-packed scenes, dramatic angles, and the full-spread portrait of Ruth. An author's note explains that there was no television in the 1920s, so fans relied on radio sportscasters for the colorful descriptions and exciting stories of Babe Ruth and his rise from rags to riches. Because this is the author's tribute to a great player, there is no mention of the sadder aspects of Babe's later life. Readers, both baseball fans and others, will enjoy this story of the athlete's gratitude and thankfulness for learning his lifetime sport.--Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

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