Written and Illustrated by Matt Tavares
(Candlewick Press, Boston, 2012, $16.99)
Talent alone won’t get you to the top; hard work – and luck – are essential, too. In There Goes Ted Williams, Matt Tavares shows how persistence made the Red Sox hitter a baseball legend. In simple, present-tense prose, Tavares relates Williams’ journey from the sandlot to Fenway Park, including his triumphant final game. Along the way, readers see young Williams practicing his swing in front of the bedroom mirror; he also serves his country during World War II and the Korean War. Tavares captures the tension of the most dramatic moments in Williams’ life: his narrow escapes in combat and his returns to the game after military service.
If There Goes Ted Williams is about the virtues of determination, it is also about the joy Williams felt in the game. One of the book’s most captivating illustrations shows Williams, who has just hit a home run, bounding around the bases, his legs suspended in mid-air, his mouth open in a wide grin. He is not taunting his opponents; his is the celebration of a boy who has just realized his dream. Later, in the spread depicting Williams’ final home run, a slight smile plays over the batter’s lips as he runs around the bases. It is the quiet satisfaction of a man who can look back with pride on his life and career.
Dorothy A. Dahm