Tavares’s full-bleed spreads alternate with sepia-toned spot drawings, all beautifully arranged in this old-fashioned but evergreen tribute.
—The New York Times
With smooth, sweeping lines and naturalistic details, Tavares’s mixed-media artwork conveys Williams’s joyful devotion to his sport.
Kids will especially like that this wonderful picture book spends a lot of time talking about the childhood of the famous Boston Red Sox slugger... An exciting and inspiring story.
—Washington Post KidsPost
…exhilarating…Tavares's full-bleed spreads alternate with sepia-toned spot drawings, all beautifully arranged in this old-fashioned but evergreen tribute.
The New York Times
Hall of Famer Ted Williams began playing baseball professionally at age 17, joining the then minor league San Diego Padres and playing his entire major league career with the Boston Red Sox. With subtle rhythm, Tavares’s prose poem depicts the course of Williams’s career, from his tireless commitment to practice (“He watches his swing in the mirror,/ again and again and again./ Two on, two out, last of the ninth...”) through events that took him away from the field, including the eruption of two wars. But Williams always returned to baseball: rejoining the Red Sox after his plane is shot down in Korea, Williams hits 13 home runs in 37 games and is named Player of the Decade for the 1950s (Tavares briefly notes some of Williams’s less positive traits in an afterword). With smooth, sweeping lines and naturalistic details, Tavares’s mixed-media artwork conveys Williams’s joyful devotion to his sport. Ages 6–10. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.)
Tavares takes us back to the childhood of Williams, as he practices baseball late into the days, training as he grows. At seventeen, his mother feels that he is too young to join the Yankees, so he goes to the local San Diego Padres and becomes a professional. He loves the life. In 1937 he signs with the Boston Red Sox. Four years later he is an all-star. But when World War II begins, Williams enlists in the Navy's V-5 training program to become a fighter pilot. The war ends in time for Williams to return to his beloved baseball. But then he is called back to be a pilot in the Korean War. He crashes his plane but survives. Returning again, despite his age, he is still a baseball hero, named Major League Player of the Decade for the 1950s. "HOME RUN!" is a repeated refrain in this terse tribute to "the greatest hitter." The visual story is told primarily in naturalistic double-page gouache, watercolor, and pencil scenes. Vignettes depicting constant exercising and practicing add vitality to the growth of this master batter. The focus is always on Williams. But the settings are informative, depicting the fields and the audiences that fill the seats. Notes add background information, along with a statistics chart and bibliography. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Gr 2–6—Following his outstanding Henry Aaron's Dream (Candlewick, 2010), Tavares has written an equally stunning book about another Baseball Hall of Famer. Even as a child, Williams had only one goal—to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. His work ethic, combined with immense talent, carried him through a career of 21 years, all with the Boston Red Sox, in which he seemed to conjure up magical moments at will. The author covers many of the highlights: Williams's game-winning home run in the 1941 All-Star game; his .406 season (a record that still stands); his numerous batting titles; his career-closing home run (immortalized by John Updike in a 1960 New Yorker article). In an author's note, Tavares shares how he learned to love the player, warts and all, through the stories his father told him. Williams's charisma dominates the illustrations, from the very first one of a scrawny boy swinging under the palm trees of a San Diego playground, to his final trip around the bases at Fenway. Due attention is also given to Williams's distinguished military career, which he approached with the same determination to dominate as he did hitting. The anecdote about him choosing to crash his disabled fighter jet rather than eject and risk breaking his legs—which would end his baseball career, if his age of 35 didn't—is a testament to the larger-than-life personality Tavares is trying to contain in his book. This is a glorious tribute to a baseball legend and a complicated human being.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
Ted Williams' goal was, as the subtitle suggests, to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. His career was legendary, even though, for several seasons at the peak of his abilities, it was interrupted by military service in World War II and Korea. He was able to capitalize on dramatic moments; he hit home runs in his first game upon returning from World War II, in his last game before reporting for duty in Korea and again when he returned. And of course he hit one for his last major league at-bat. Williams was a complex and difficult personality, but Tavares chooses to focus on these larger-than-life heroics, telling of Williams' desire to be the best at everything he attempted and the joy he felt when he accomplished his goals. The language is rich in imagery, with short, action-packed sentences. The free-verse text is either separated on a sepia background framed in red, or laid over the illustrations. Commanding watercolor, gouache and pencil illustrations depict Williams in action as a boy, a major-leaguer and a Navy pilot. Tavares captures him well in his Red Sox uniform, with his unique swing and home-run trot. A baseball hero and an American hero, the last player to hit over .400 in a season; here, Ted Williams is introduced to a new generation of baseball fans. (author's note, statistics, bibliography)
(Picture book/ biography. 6-10)