Growing Up Pedro

GrowingUpPedro

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Matt Tavares

Let me get this off my chest…I’m not a baseball fan and I think that’s why it took me so long to pick up this book. I didn’t read it until I decided to participate in a Twitter Chat (SharpSchu) to discuss it. Sometimes I have to remind myself to open my eyes and embrace everything. I’m still not big on baseball but Growing Up Pedro isn’t just about baseball; it’s about the amazing relationship between brothers Ramón and Pedro Martínez.

The size of this picture book is large; it’s designed to be opened wide and fully experienced. As soon as you open the first page, you’ll see a sweeping landscape of the Dominican Republic in 1981 and little brown boys playing stickball. This sets the tone of the story where we’ll learn how two great baseball players came to dominate American baseball.

GrowingUpPedro

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Matt Tavares

From an early age, Pedro admires his big brother Ramón’s skill and they practice together, throwing balls at the ripe mangos hanging from the trees. Eventually Ramón makes it to the LA Dodgers in 1985 and when he leaves for America, Pedro becomes more determined than ever to follow him. Ramón learns from his struggles and makes sure that Pedro is better in English than him when he’s ready to join him in the Major Leagues. Pedro isn’t as big as Ramón (this will cause some to doubt his ability) but his heart is just as big if not bigger. Heart pumping full of determination, he makes it to the Minor-Leagues just as his big brother is making waves on the Dodgers.

The brothers end up on the Dodgers, together. But before he knows it, Pedro is traded to Montreal! He continues to shine due to his inner strength and the support of his big brother. He DOMINATES as a pitcher and eventually surpasses even his brother in skill. Pedro goes to the Red Sox and later Ramón joins him again and together they lead the Red Sox to the American League Championship Series. Throughout their career, the Martínez Brothers are the pride of the Dominican Republic and never forget where they come from.

Tavares’ watercolor and gouache illustrations are dynamic. As I mentioned earlier, the wide, sweeping landscapes are gorgeous. I particularly enjoy the scenes of young Pedro and Ramón against the green trees, in shorts and caps, playing baseball with their friends and having fun! Baseball lovers will appreciate the almost photorealistic paintings of the brothers during their prime, pitching on the mound with determination in their eyes. If you’re looking for an excellent story about brotherhood, love and reaching for your dreams (oh and baseball 😉 ), pick up Growing Up Pedro!

P.S. If you buy this book, be sure to remove the jacket and check out the cover!! It’s really cool and brings the story full circle. Also, this book will be published in Spanish soon! SWEET!

 

Recommended for: 2nd Grade and up
Great for: Brotherhood, Ripe Mangos, Siblings, Relationships, Role Model, Admiration, Dreams, Determination, Coming of Age, Diversity, Cultural Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Community, Friendship, Baseball, Biography, Sports, Sports History, Pedro Martínez, Ramón Martínez, LA Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos, Dominican Republic, Inner-Strength
Book Info: Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares, 2015 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763668242

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Harper Teen, Patrick Ness

Image Credit: Harper Teen, Patrick Ness

Warm fuzzy socks. That’s how The Rest of Us Just Live Here made me feel when I finished it. It left me with a comfy feeling because Ness does an amazing job of characterization. I love his characters so much! Onion. That’s how I’d describe this novel due to its layers. On the surface, it’s an action-packed/end of the world thriller but more importantly it’s a coming of age novel. Their world is coming to an end and the “Indie Kids” (they fight the bad guys, are hipster and antisocial) are running around fighting evil while the normal kids try to make sense of everything that’s happening. They just want to graduate high school before the Indie Kids blow up the school…again.

The four main characters Mikey, Jared, Mel and Henna become wrapped up in the middle of all the disturbing events going on in their town, but as they learn more about what’s going on, they learn more about themselves, their relationships and how powerful they are. This novel is really about friendship. Sure we follow the action-packed scenes of the near apocalypse and wonder if another Indie Kid will die, but the heart of the story is how close the friends are and how real their love for each other is. Ness really delves into questions about first love, infatuation, sexuality, mental health, family life, trust and forgiveness. This one will stay with you.

P.S. The U.S. cover glows in the dark…Say What??  😉

Recommended for: Teens aged 14 and up
Great for: Friendship, Mental Health, Diversity, Coming of Age, Sci-fi, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Community, Family
Book Info: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, 2015 Harper Teen, ISBN: 9780062403162