Oliver's Game


"This poignant story, illustrated with soft pencil and watercolors, will grab the hearts of baseball fans everywhere." ? Chicago Sun-Times

Oliver Hall loves baseball, and he loves the ritual of listening to Grandpa Hall?s innumerable baseball stories. But one day Oliver makes a startling discovery. It seems his grandfather has kept one very special story a secret: his own. Matt Tavares hits the ball out of the park with this luminously illustrated tale about the joy of baseball,...

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"This poignant story, illustrated with soft pencil and watercolors, will grab the hearts of baseball fans everywhere." — Chicago Sun-Times

Oliver Hall loves baseball, and he loves the ritual of listening to Grandpa Hall’s innumerable baseball stories. But one day Oliver makes a startling discovery. It seems his grandfather has kept one very special story a secret: his own. Matt Tavares hits the ball out of the park with this luminously illustrated tale about the joy of baseball, intergenerational bonds, and the immutable power of dreams.

Oliver's grandfather tells him the story of how he almost joined the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tavares (Zachary's Ball) here throws out another affecting baseball yarn, which opens in Oliver's grandfather's Chicago memorabilia store, whose name, "Hall's Nostalgia," drives home the tenor of the tale. Oliver, who loves listening to stories about what the man calls "the Golden Age of the Game," one day finds a vintage Cubs uniform stashed away in the store. His grandfather, also named Oliver, then tells the story of how he earned the uniform. Some of the early scene-setting illustrations feel uncharacteristically static, but Tavares's softly focused, sepia-toned pencil and watercolor illustrations take on a credible period quality as the narrative flashes back to the fall of 1941. That year the Cubs manager sees Oliver's grandfather, at the age of 18, hit a home run while playing stickball. In what may be a stretch of credibility for some readers, the manager invites the boy to practice with the Cubs. The onfield images of (the elder) Oliver reaching for a ball in left field and at bat are especially well rendered, the emotions palpable. After witnessing the rookie's batting prowess, the coach invites him to try out for the team the following spring. But two months later, the U.S. enters WWII and the teen joins the Marines. An injury at Guadalcanal ends his ball-playing dreams, but he finds a way to keep the sport an integral part of his life. Tavares suffuses his text, his art and both of his characters with a tangible love of baseball. Ages 6-10. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In Oliver's Game, young Oliver loves helping Grandfather Hall with the baseball memorabilia in his store. When the boy finds an old Chicago Cubs uniform in the closet, Grandfather tells him a long-held secret. The old man once played nine innings for the Cubs—before marching off to World War II. When he returned wounded and unable to play again, Grandfather came to an important realization: the game belonged not just to the players on the field but to everyone, from hot dog vendors to fans. So grandfather stayed involved by opening his sports store, cheering for the home team—and sharing his love of the game with his grandson. In Grandfather Hall, author/illustrator Matt Tavares offers an important example of hope and resilience. Tavares's illustrations, done in pencil and watercolor, wonderfully convey the look and details of a bygone era. 2004, Candlewick, Ages 5 up.
—Mary Quattlebaum
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Baseball is one of the great icons for American life. In Oliver's Game, Tavares uses the resonance of the game to give his readers a sense of history. He has a young boy narrate the story of how he found a Chicago Cub's uniform in his Grandfather's store devoted to baseball memorabilia. The grandfather recounts how his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player were cut short by World War II. After serious combat injury, the young man is invited to watch a game from the dugout. Tavares's realistic sepia-toned drawings provide visual detail that will help readers establish the historical context. The story is effectively told and could trigger a good social studies assignment to interview a grandparent about some historical event in which they participated. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-As he did in Zachary's Ball (Candlewick, 2000), Tavares creates a moving tribute to baseball. Young Oliver Hall is named after his grandfather, who runs a collectibles store near Wrigley Field. They share a love of the sport and Oliver relishes his grandfather's stories about the "Golden Age of the Game." When the boy uncovers an old Chicago Cubs uniform, he is astonished to discover that it belongs to his grandfather. The man relates how, back in 1941 when he was 18 years old, the Cubs' manager saw him playing stickball, invited him to practice with the team, and gave him a uniform. After watching Oliver hit one over the bleachers, the manager encouraged him to try out for the team. However, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, Oliver joined the Marines instead. After suffering a career-ending injury, he returned home to find that baseball evoked bittersweet feelings, until the thrilling World Series of 1945 reawakened his love for it. The sepia-toned illustrations, done in pencil and watercolor, create a lushly nostalgic mood. Reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg's style, Tavares's artwork is notable for its vivid detail and animation. The text masterfully weaves together tradition, perseverance, loyalty, and family lore, and the result will enchant baseball fans young and old. Pair this well-crafted offering with Donald Hall's excellent When Willard Met Babe Ruth (Harcourt, 1996).-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Zachary's Ball (2000) offers another tale of baseball dreams passing from one generation to another, grafted to atmospheric pencil illustrations that recall Chris Van Allsburg's early work. An old Cubs uniform that young Oliver finds in his grandpa's closet brings out a previously unheard story, about how, back in 1941, a teenager's stickball play on the street outside Wrigley Field had earned an invitation to try out with the professional team. But then the war came, and a wound changed the course of that young player's life. Still, observing that, "the game of baseball is more than just the players on the field," Grandpa gives Oliver the jersey to wear, and both repair to their rooftop-situated across the very same street-to watch a game over Wrigley's outfield wall. An intimate, poignant episode for fans who revel in the game's less tangible aspects. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763618520
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/2/2004
  • Series: Tavares baseball books
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,431,282
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 9.45 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Tavares is a graduate of Bates College in Maine. He is the illustrator of ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and the author-illustrator of ZACHARY'S BALL, which was named to the list of 100 Classic New England Children’s Books by YANKEE MAGAZINE and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award. He says, "I’m fascinated with the history of baseball, and of course, I’m moved by stories of players who left the game to serve their country during World War II. OLIVER'S GAME is a story about one young man of that generation, and his ability to find happiness in a complicated world by holding on to his childhood dreams."

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