Becoming Babe Ruth
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Becoming Babe Ruth

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  47 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Candlewick Press

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Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares is a nominee for the 2014-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

As a lifelong baseball fan, I've always been fascinated with Babe Ruth (even if he did play for the Red Sox and the Yankees). I haven't, however, really thought about what made Babe Ruth into the greatest baseball player who ever lived. At least, not until now. Matt Tavares' wonderful picture book, Becoming Babe Ruth, takes a look at what turned a boy into a legend.

George Herman Ruth definitely didn...more
Another wonderful baseball story from Matt Tavares! I thought I knew a lot about Babe Ruth, but Tavares' focus in this book is a bit different. He chose to showcase George Ruth's time at St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, where his parents sent him at age 7 when he was too much trouble to handle. It was there, under the guidance of Brother Matthias that he learned to love the game of baseball and develop the skills that made him an icon. After making it in the big leagues, he gave back to th...more

Becoming Babe Ruth written and illustrated by Matt Tavares and published by Candlewick, 2013.

Tomato-stealer, inmate, rule-breaker—not necessarily words that immediately come to mind when we think of Babe Ruth. Indeed, Babe Ruth's meteoric rise in baseball came from humble beginnings. In the first part of the 20th century, Babe was indeed a troublemaker and his parents were at their wits' ends. Although not truly an orphan, Babe found himself in a children'...more
Bridget Cabbiness
"Becoming Babe Ruth" by Matt Tavares is a biography for children in the primary age group, ages five to eight. The story begins with George Ruth as a young boy who likes to skip school and cause trouble and watches him grow into the famous Babe Ruth. I enjoyed this book because it taught me a few things about Babe Ruth that I didn’t even know, but I found it a little slow and hard to get through. If it was hard for me to get through I feel like children in the five to eight age group will have s...more
Because he was incorrigible as a child, George Ruth, the man who would grow up to become Babe Ruth, was placed in a boys' school. There, the man who would become a mighty slugger for the New York Yankees learned to follow rules and fell in love with baseball. What's particularly intriguing about Babe's story is how he never forgot the school that was so formative in his life or Brother Matthias who refined Ruth's baseball skills during his youth. The text and watercolor, gouache, and pencil illu...more
I knew nothing about Babe Ruth's early life before reading this book. I had no idea that his background was what it was, but it humanized him for me. I found it interesting and not too bogged down in fact. Just a simple story of someone well known. Wish I knew better about baseball so that I could be properly impressed by the included stats.

2014-2015 Beehive nominee
Brenda Kahn
Grades 1 - 4

Tavares hits another one out of the park, this time he sends us back in time to 1902, when George Herman Ruth, age 7 is about to be turned over to Saint Mary's School for Boys because he's "incorrigible." Told in the present tense, in spare short lines that look like verse, the reader learns a bit about the life of 800 boys who need structure and rules. The highlight of George's day is at the end of it, when he gets to play baseball and watch Brother Mathias slug baseballs over the t...more
This is the story of who Babe Ruth was before he became a famous baseball player. When the misbehaving George Ruth was seven years old, his parents took him to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. There George lived by an incredibly strict schedule and set of rules. Every day George goes to class, learns how to be a tailor in the school shop, does his chores, and eats the same things, but when everything is done, George gets to play baseball. Brother Matthias teaches George what he knows,...more
This is a fun biography about the life of famous baseball player Babe Ruth. This book would also be a good history lesson for my first grade students. This book is acceptable for any grade level, however, I chose to analyze it’s accuracy for first grade students because this is the grade level of my current placement. This book is also good for science in that one can use it to further explore the use of force and motion, when reading about Babe’s hitting the ball with a baseball bat. This is a...more
This biography/picture book is a well told story of the young Babe Ruth. From his troubled life on the streets to his boys school days to his baseball career, the huge pictures tell as much story as the text.
Cristina Zamarron
Now that I have finished reading the biography and autobiography books I come to think as of why I would check out biography books as a child. I have no clue why I liked reading biographies or why my teacher would make us check out at least one biography book. I read the biography Becoming Babe Ruth and it was an ok book. I might have not liked it much because I’m not a huge baseball fan or because I wasn’t captured by the storyline. Now, don’t get me wrong the images in this book are fascinatin...more
Melissa Mcavoy
A very fine picture book biography of Babe Ruth that focuses on his awesome baseball career, oversize personality and his enduring connection to and work on behalf of institutionalized boys. After a reprobate youth 'Babe' is consigned to a Catholic boys home by his exasperated parents. Along with strict discipline and tailoring skills he is taught baseball by a talented athletic priest. A bibliography is included. Every face in this book is white, which is likely historically accurate. I can't d...more
I just happened to see this at the library and grabbed when I realized it was a Baltimore baseball story. We read it tonight and my 6 year old really enjoyed the connections to baseball that he already knew and is excited to learn more about Baby Ruth at his next visit to Camden Yards. The story lends to great discussion points and inferences to be made. I enjoy the present tense story as it makes it seems to make it more identifiable with younger children. And there is great information in the...more
#Bookaday As a 7 year-old, George Ruth skips school and steals money from a nearby saloon. His parents are out of patience with him and take George to Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys. While there, George discovers baseball, and so begins the life of Babe Ruth. The story of Babe Ruth is accompanied by colorful illustrations that perfectly capture the time and personality of Babe. This will be an enjoyable read for baseball fans of all ages. In addition, the messages in the book, about har...more
Maybe even a 4.5
Great Matt Tavares illustrations and look at the early life of this iconic sports figure. Interesting to know a little more about Ruth's early life at an "industrial School for Boys," where his baseball skills were honed. There is much of Ruth's later years that would not work well for an elementary focused picture book, but the message included here--work hard, honor your roots--are all important and very appropriate to share. Tavares' baseball passion can be found in many of hi...more

I learned a lot about Babe Ruth in this biography. I though it was interesting that he was a trouble maker and had to be sent to a strict school for boys to straighten him up. It was so strict the students there were called inmates! While he was there, though, he discovered baseball, and that changed his life forever. It just goes to show that if kids find their passion, they will excel. I loved that Ruth had the opportunity to give back to the school that made such a difference in his life.
A nice picture book about how the "Sultan of Swat" grew up and became Babe Ruth.
This story will probably really resonate with boys between 2nd and 4th grade. It shows how George's lack of impulse control and oppositional behavior-- to put it in modern terms-- lead to his family turning him over to a boarding school. Although, George (the Babe)initially considered Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys a prison, he flourished within its walls and later was able to give back to the school. Somewhat glorified slice of his life, but no less charming!
What an excellent book about the famed Babe Ruth! I gave this book 5/5 stars. I would recommend this story for middle and upper elementary age students. I thought the writer did excellent with highlighting the important times in Babe Ruth’s career. I thought the illustrations where excellent and really helped keep the story entertaining. I loved this book and think all children, especially those interested in baseball, should read this book!
Sue Poduska
Very few Americans, even those not interested in sports, have never heard of Babe Ruth. So what makes this volume unique and valuable? The story focuses on Ruth’s early life and how he became the great baseball player rather than on his stats and behavior as a grown man. The phenomenal illustrations show not only the illustrator’s passion for baseball and for Ruth, but they also show Ruth’s passion for everything, including kids and eating.
Beautifully illustrated, a different side to Babe Ruth than what is usually pictured. I have often question list that put him as one of the worlds top athletes--most of the clips I saw were of a fat old man--showboating. I never knew he started as a pitcher. This book shows him as a real athlete and balances the picture of the "showboating" I have associated with him.
Why would the greatest all-around baseball player of all time finish a game at Yankee Stadium, then go to a schoolboy band in the stands, pick up a bass drum, and start playing along? Because Babe Ruth once was a scrawny seven-year-old in a school for troubled boys and became a sports icon, and never forgot where he came from... or who helped him along the way.
Carl Sanders
Hall of Fame book!

As much as the book was about Babe as a youngster it was about Brother Matthias and his influential role in the life of George Herman Ruth. The author/illustrator excelled with both the prose and the illustrations. Particularly poignant was the pictures of Brother Matthias watching over the Babe.
Karen Arendt
A solid biography of Babe Ruth for beginner readers. Includes general details about his childhood and how he began playing baseball. Highlights of his professional ball game and his philanthropic work to help out the reform school he attended as a child. Includes his pitching and hitting records in back.
Allison Acker
This book is about Babe Ruth, who he was, and all his great accomplishments. This book would be great for young boys to read because, they would be inspired by all of Babe Ruth's accomplishment. This book may also give young children aspirations to work towards in their lives as well.
Very well done. I love that it felt so much like reading a story and not a biography yet it's packed with facts. The author's note is great supplemental information and I love the inclusion of the bibliography. I'm sure I'd also love the stats if I had any idea what they meant!
From a man who not only knows baseball but puts the passion for the game on the pages of a book in words and pictures, Matt Tavares shows and tells us things we might not know about Babe Ruth.

My full review:
Samantha Tai
I really had no interest in reading this book, but when I opened it to the first page, I was awed by the illustrations. The story is good, but the illustrations really make this book. Plus I learned all about Babe Ruth.
My favorite bio of the year. Very interesting details about Babe Ruth's early years and how it impacted him as an adult. It is a great length for children and written in a "story-like" format!
Sharon Lawler
Beautifully illustrated biography about Babe Ruth which highlights the positive contributions he made to society. Author's note, pitching and battling stats, and bibliography are included.
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Matt Tavares is the award-winning author-illustrator of Henry Aaron's Dream, Zachary’s Ball, Oliver ’s Game, and Mudball, and the illustrator of several other books, including ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, or an Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas; Jack and the Beanstalk; Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty: A Biography; and Kristin Kladstrup’s The Gingerbread Pirates, He lives in Maine with his...more
More about Matt Tavares...
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