Cover image for Zachary's ball
Zachary's ball
Tavares, Matt.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : illustrations ; 22 x 28 cm
Dad takes Zachary to his first Boston Red Sox game where they catch a ball and something magical happens.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 42177.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



When his father takes him to his first baseball game, Zachary is amazed by the sights and sounds of Fenway Park. When his father catches a foul ball and gives it to Zachary, something amazing happens - Zachary finds himself playing for the Red Sox.

Author Notes

Matt Tavares was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1975.

Matt wrote and illustrated his first picture book, Sebastian's Ball, as his senior thesis at Bates College. Three years later, after much revision, Sebastian's Ball became Zachary's Ball, his first published picture book. Since then, Matt has published a number of books.

Matt's books have won several awards, including three Parents' Choice Gold Awards, a Parents' Choice Silver Honor, two Oppenheim Gold Seal Awards, and an International Reading Association Children's Book Award.

Matt lives in Ogunquit, Maine with his wife, Sarah, and their two daughters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-9. When Zachary makes his first trip to the cozy confines of Boston's Fenway Park, he is enchanted by the closeness of things--the field, the players, even the groundskeeper. But when his father catches and gives him a foul ball hit by hero Buck Spoonwell, the real magic begins. Zachary is transported to the pitcher's mound, in uniform, where a single strike will win the game for the Sox. He rears back and fires strike three past the batter. With the ball in his possession, Zachary has many such heroic dreams, until one day the ball (somewhat conveniently) gets lost. Years later, as an adult, Zachary comes upon another ball, and realizing that the magic of the ball belongs to the young, he passes his prize on to a little girl. The story is at once a tribute to the spell of baseball and to parks like Fenway and Wrigley Field. The realistic black-and-white illustrations, done in soft pencil, are less successful than the text at catching the dreamy quality of a boy's imaginings. Surely the color of baseball, and especially Fenway Park, is green? --Tim Arnold

Publisher's Weekly Review

Magic, nostalgia and the power of a child's imagination come into play with winning results in the pencil illustrations of Tavares's debut children's book. Told in flashback, the tale opens with a wide-angle view of Fenway Park and the boy's awestruck comment, "I had never been inside a ballpark until that day." A remarkable drawing of one of Zachary's Red Sox heroes evokes a camera close-up of the hitter with the crowd's faces slightly out of focus. Zachary's father catches the resulting pop fly and hands it to his son, who, in a Field of Dreams-style suspension of disbelief, is immediately transported to the pitcher's mound. Wearing a Red Sox uniform, the boy throws a third strike to win the game, then finds himself back in the stands with his father. Back home, Zachary sleeps with the ball each night and dreams that he is on the field, performing more crowd-pleasing feats. Though the narrative's transitions (from the main action into the dreams, and between past and present) are a bit choppy, it ends on an upbeat note: years later, the narrator catches a home-run ball outside the park and gives the ball to a girl walking by with her father. The timeless quality of Tavares's black-and-white pencil illustrations is in perfect pitch with the story's setting and theme. Close-up images of Zachary convincingly convey the boy's elation in his moments of ball-playing triumph--a feeling with which young baseball fans will surely identify. Ages 7-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-In this picture-book baseball fantasy, Zachary's father takes him to Fenway Park for his first baseball game. Zachary's dad catches a pop fly hit by Buck Spoonwell, and hands it to the boy. Instantly, Zack is on the mound, pitching for Boston. He strikes the player out and the Sox win the game. When the catcher returns the ball, Zachary is suddenly back in his seat. He tells his father that this baseball is magic and his father replies, "They're all magic." Zachary writes his name on it, and sleeps with it every night. Eventually, the ball disappears. Years later, as an adult, he is walking past Fenway and catches an over-the-wall home run. He thinks he sees his name on it, but then the words disappear. He gives it to a girl in the street and tells her that all baseballs are magic. The soft-focus pencil drawings complement the text well, giving a feeling of the past. This simple, clearly written story is reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express (Houghton, 1995) in terms of its plot, fantasy elements, and overall sense of nostalgia.-Anne Parker, Milton Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.