Book Review: There Goes Ted Williams

Author/Illustrator: Matt Tavares
Publisher: Candlewick Press (February 2012)
Source: Personal Copy
History * Biographical * Baseball * Sports

Description from the publisher:
Ted Williams lived a life of dedication and passion. He was an ordinary kid who wanted one thing: to hit a baseball better than anyone else. So he practiced his swing every chance he got. He did fingertip push-ups. He ate a lot of food. He practiced his swing again. And then practiced it some more. From his days playing ball in North Park as a kid to his unmatched .406 season in 1941 to his heroic tours of duty as a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, the story of Teddy Ballgame is the story of an American hero. In this engrossing biography, a companion to Henry Aaron's Dream, Matt Tavares makes Ted Williams's life story accessible to a whole new generation of fans who are sure to admire the hard work, sacrifice, and triumph of the greatest hitter who ever lived. A lively picture book biography of Ted Williams from a master of the genre - just in time for Fenway Park's centennial.

My thoughts on the book:
I grew up in New England; Connecticut to be specific.  We didn't have our own baseball team.  Most of us sided with either the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox.  And well then there were those who cheered on the New York Mets.  Regardless of what team you pledged your allegiance to, if you were a New Englander, you knew Fenway Park, the Green Monster, and Ted Williams.  Even though when I was a child, Williams had been retired for many years, his name still stood for what baseball meant to people.

In There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, author/illustrator, Matt Tavares captures the passion, dedication, and magic that was Williams.  He came into baseball during the Great Depression.  His career was interrupted several times by our country's involvement in both World War II and the Korean War.  Despite interruptions, Williams managed to continue his career becoming one of baseballs all time heroes.

Though Williams had his flaws, Tavares elects to focus on the Williams as a baseball player with the emphasis on his being an incredible hitter.  In the Author's Note, Tavares mentions both the flaws and the philanthropic side of Williams.  There was no love lost between sportswriters and Williams, but those who knew of his dedication to helping sick children through the Jimmy Fund Clinic & Dana Farber Cancer Institute knew another side.

Tavares has managed to capture a little bit of the magic that was Ted Williams and with the arrival of baseball season may we all take a moment to celebrate it as well.

Check out the book trailer for There Goes Ted Williams:

More information on Matt Tavares: website | twitter | facebook 

Book Review - Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow: A Story of Young Jimi Hendrix

Author: Gary Golio
Illustrator: Javaka Steptoe
Publisher: Clarion Books (October 4, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12 years
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Description from GoodReads
Jimi Hendrix was many things: a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. But first, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself a question: Could someone paint pictures with sound?
     This a story of a talented child who learns to see, hear, and interpret the world around him in his own unique way. It is also a story of a determined kid with a vision, who worked hard to become a devoted and masterful artist. Jimi Hendrix--a groundbreaking performer whose music shook the very foundations of rock 'n' roll.

Recently, I noticed that someone had mentioned this book on Twitter.  During my next trip to my favorite indie bookstore, I decided to check it out.  I was curious to read a picture book on Jimi Hendrix.  From what point of view would it be told? And what would it chose to focus on? I was pleased with the approach that author Gary Golio uses to tell about Jimi Hendrix the child.  The majority of the book focuses on his early youth, his love of music, and how he discovers his own signature playing style.  The reader learns about the musicians and bands that influenced Hendrix in the early years, as well as, how he began with a ukulele and then a second-hand guitar.  

Steptoe's mixed media focuses on providing a visual representation of Hendrix's music.  The colors splash across the page providing this incredible compliment to the text. 

Golio does a solid job with this biography. And the resources at the end of the book are quite valuable especially if a teacher or student decides to look at them more closely.  This would be a nice addition to a collection on biographies. Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow is definitely a book worth checking out.