From School Library Journal
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, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*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. Grades 1-4. --Linda Perkins