cover image Becoming Babe Ruth

Becoming Babe Ruth

Matt Tavares. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5646-1

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.)