Sports Illustrated Kids had a feature (by a “kid reporter”!) on author Matt Tavares, who was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to celebrate the release of his new book, Growing Up Pedro. Tavares wrote and illustrated the book on Dominican pitcher Pedro Martinez. Here is a short description of the book and excerpts from the interview conducted by SI Kids:
The children’s picture book describes how soon-to-be Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez and his brother Ramon grew up in the Dominican Republic. It follows how Ramon was drafted into the MLB, followed a few years later by Pedro. More than a book about baseball, it is a story about brotherhood, determination, overcoming obstacles, and dreams come true. Growing Up Pedro is full of beautiful watercolor illustrations that help tell the story.
What got you interested in Pedro Martinez’s story as something that would make a good kids book?
Pedro Martinez is the greatest baseball player I’ve ever seen in person. Being at Fenway Park when Pedro was pitching was such a thrill, and I was excited about the idea of including that experience in a book. Once I got the idea that I might want to do a book about Pedro, I started reading every article and interview I could find. I started seeing him not just as a big superstar baseball player, but also as a kid who faced all kinds of obstacles and worked hard to make his dream come true. I knew he would be someone that kids would relate to, and root for.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
I did a lot of research for this book. I read hundreds of interviews and articles about Pedro, and I even traveled to the Dominican Republic and visited some places where it still looks the way it did when Pedro was a kid. It was amazing to be able to see it all in person then go home and paint all these places I had just visited. I think that helped me really capture the feel of the place, more so than if I had just found pictures of it online.
How did you decide on what scenes from Pedro’s life to illustrate?
In my baseball biographies, I find that if I try to tell everything that’s ever happened in a person’s life, it just doesn’t work. So I need to dig through all the information from my research and decide what part of the story I want to tell. For Growing Up Pedro, I decided to focus on brotherhood because that’s something I think is very special about Pedro’s story. When he was a kid, his big brother, Ramon, was the baseball star of the family and he was Pedro’s idol. Ramon helped Pedro so much along the way, from teaching him how to pitch, to encouraging him to study English every day, so if he ever made it to the big leagues his transition to life in the United States would be easier. Once I decided on brotherhood as a major theme of the book, it helped me decide which scenes to include and which ones to leave out. [. . .]
For full interview, see http://www.sikids.com/blogs/2015/03/10/talking-with-matt-tavares-author-of-growing-up-pedro