Growing Up Pedro

illus. by Matt Tavares. 40p. bibliog. chart. illus. notes. Candlewick. Feb. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763668242. LC 2014944675.
RedReviewStarGr 2–4—Tavares is no stranger to the baseball picture book biography genre. He has several examples under his belt: There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived (2012) and Becoming Babe Ruth (2013, both Candlewick). With his latest, Tavares looks to a more recent time and player, Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion Pedro Martinez. Tavares begins in the Dominican Republic in 1981, where Martinez witnessed his older brother Ramon's rise to stardom. Tavares masterfully depicts, with quick verse and beautiful illustrations, the world in which the two siblings came of age. Though he was considered too small to make it as a pitcher in the major leagues, his persistence eventually paid off and he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and moved to the United States. Martinez journeyed to America, facing challenges as he adapted to a new language and culture. After describing of the athlete's major league triumphs with several teams, Tavares leads readers back to the mango groves of the Dominican Republic, where Martinez developed into one of the best pitchers in baseball history. It is somewhat vexing that there is no mention of how in 2004, with Martinez, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years; however, this is a strong overview of a remarkable athlete. Martinez's unbelievable statistics are included at the end of the book.
VERDICT A wonderful introduction to a truly special player.

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