Becoming Babe Ruth

( 1 )


Matt Tavares?s striking homage to one of baseball?s legends offers a rare view into Babe Ruth?s formative years in "the House that built Ruth."

Before he is known as the Babe, George Herman Ruth is just a boy who lives in Baltimore and gets into a lot of trouble. But when he turns seven, his father brings him to the gates of Saint Mary?s Industrial School for Boys, and his life is changed forever. At Saint Mary?s, he?s expected to study hard and follow a lot of rules. But there ...

See more details below
$12.31 price
(Save 27%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (18) from $8.00   
  • New (12) from $10.07   
  • Used (6) from $8.00   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


Matt Tavares’s striking homage to one of baseball’s legends offers a rare view into Babe Ruth’s formative years in "the House that built Ruth."

Before he is known as the Babe, George Herman Ruth is just a boy who lives in Baltimore and gets into a lot of trouble. But when he turns seven, his father brings him to the gates of Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, and his life is changed forever. At Saint Mary’s, he’s expected to study hard and follow a lot of rules. But there is one good thing about Saint Mary’s: almost every day, George gets to play baseball. Here, under the watchful eye of Brother Matthias, George evolves as a player and as a man, and when he sets off into the wild world of big-league baseball, the school, the boys, and Brother Matthias are never far from his heart. With vivid illustrations and clear affection for his subject, Matt Tavares sheds light on an icon who learned early that life is what you make of it — and sends home a message about honoring the place from which you came.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Pamela Paul
There is warmth and affection in Tavares's paintings, which generously illustrate the text, often in immersive spreads.
Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
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.
—Booklist (starred review)

This is a story about the boy who became the man as much as it is about baseball...There is warmth and affection in Tavares’s paintings, which generously illustrate the text, often in immersive spreads.
—The New York Times

Children's Literature - Leona Illig
Baltimore in 1902 could be a tough town for people with little money and few skills. George Herman Ruth found this out at a young age, and he had trouble coping. He played hooky, stole from local merchants, and seemed to be headed for a dismal life as a petty thief. In desperation, his parents sent him to a boarding school known as Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys, and that was a critical point in his life. He learned responsibility, loyalty, and generosity He also learned how to throw a curve ball and hit one out of the park, eventually becoming one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game of baseball. This is the story of how Babe Ruth, with the help of some great teachers and role models, was able to turn his life around. It is also the story of how, after he had become rich and famous, the Babe lent his time, talent, and money to help the school that had saved him, and to give some joy to those who needed it most. The text is clear and easy to read, and is written on a simple level. After hearing the story a few times, young readers may be able to read some sentences for themselves. The illustrations are huge and colorful, and the inclusion of newspaper-style drawings is an especially nice touch. At the back of the book is an author's note; charts on Ruth's pitching and hitting statistics; and a bibliography. This is a big book, as big as the Babe himself. Baseball fans will be captivated by the story, but no young reader could fail to be inspired by this true, rags-to-riches story of an American baseball hero. Reviewer: Leona Illig
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, VA
Kirkus Reviews
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)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763656461
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 185,374
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Tavares

Matt Tavares is the author-illustrator of Zachary’s Ball, Oliver’s Game, Mudball, Henry Aaron’s Dream, and There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. He is also the illustrator of The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and Lady Liberty: A Biography by Doreen Rappaport, among other picture books. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    AN ALL-STAR PICTURE BOOK: Matt Tavares follows up on his winning

    AN ALL-STAR PICTURE BOOK: Matt Tavares follows up on his winning biography of Ted Williams with BECOMING BABE RUTH. The book focuses on Ruth's youth, showing a softer side of him than the traditional "adult" biographies favor.
    Ruth never forgot the teacher that befriended him. This is a tale of gratitude that any age baseball fan would love. Lastly, appreciate the art in this book. Tavares doesn't simply reproduce vintage photographs. This illustrator is an artist. Standing ovation!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)