Tavares, Matt. 2013. BECOMING BABE RUTH. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 9780763656461 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]
Babe Ruth is a fascinating icon from America’s history. Few are unaware of his prowess on the baseball field. Biographies sharing stories of his years in baseball on and off the field are not rare. However, this beautifully illustrated picture book biography was able provide a rare look at this well-known figure for an elementary audience.
BECOMING BABE RUTH by Tavares discusses Ruth’s childhood at Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. As a young boy, George Ruth got into some mischief in his neighborhood, and his parents with few other options sent him to Saint Mary’s. Life was difficult there, but it is at this school that George learned how to play baseball.
This biography, with full page illustrations done in watercolor, gouache, and pencil, provides a slice of Ruth’s life that many young readers have not heard. It tells the story of someone who struggled as a child before becoming Babe Ruth.
In the author’s note, Tavares discusses not only his fascination with Ruth’s life, but also how baseball fans in 1920 were able to follow his life. The back matter also includes a full page of stats from his years as a pitcher and batter.
For a number of notable individuals there are several biographies available for students to read. Each book shares a different and unique perspective about the individual. Students could compare the stories and perspectives from a variety of picture book biographies on Babe Ruth and a number of other people.
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