Monday, April 11, 2016

Growing Up Pedro (Matt Tavares)

Author:  Matt Tavares

Illustrator:  Matt Tavares

Summary from the Publisher
Before Pedro Martinez pitched the Red Sox to a World Series championship, before he was named to the All-Star team eight times, before he won the Cy Young three times, he was a kid from a place called Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic. Pedro loved baseball more than anything, and his older brother Ramon was the best pitcher he’d ever seen. He’d dream of the day he and his brother could play together in the major leagues—and here, Matt Tavares tells the story of how that dream came true.

Just the Beginning
“One sunny day in the village of Manoguayobo, Pedro Martinez sits in the shade and watches the older boys play. He wants to play too.”

Matt Tavares presents a compelling narrative about Pedro Martinez’s rise to baseball stardom. He begins with Pedro’s watching his brother, Ramon, play ball in their small village. Stars are in his eyes as he admires Ramon’s pitching skills.  His brother mentors him while they are growing up and even after he leaves to play professional ball. Immediately, Tavares sets the heart of the story not about baseball, but about the relationship and mentorship of the two brothers.

Years after his brother is drafted into the Major League, Pedro follows. Whenever he takes the mound, “he is a lion fighting for his food.” It is an apt description because he plays every game with everything he has in him. He remains determined and humble even when he reaches super stardom. 

Pedro has set backs and obstacles, but he always perseveres.  As Pedro succeeds, his countrymen in the Dominican Republic cheer along and celebrate with him, including his team’s experience in the American League Championship Series. 

The book ends where it begins—with the two brothers practicing back home in their village.  Pedro and Ramon never lose touch with what is important—family and community. Parents and educators can use the book to discuss important character qualities as well as to provide role models for young people. 

Brilliant watercolor illustrations round out this stunning oversized picture book, perfect for reading out loud in a classroom or cuddling up on the couch before bed. I recommend Growing Up Pedro for ages 5 and up.

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