Candlewick Press

March 2005

$14.95 AU

51p pb

ISBN: 978-0763624446

fp March 2002

Becoming Joe DiMaggio

Maria Testa

from the book...

It is the summer of 1936. The Yankees have a new center fielder whose name sounds like music and Papa-Angelo has a new grandson. The birth of Joseph Paul holds the promise of a better life and a brighter future for the family of an old man from Italy. 

Young Joseph Paul grows up, his ear to the radio, listening for the magical sound of a Joe DiMaggio hit, and learning the rules of the game at his grandfather's knee. He learns how to run fast and how to make life's difficult plays. He also learns how to dream: maybe some day he'll grow up to be a hero like "Joltin' Joe" DiMaggio. Maybe someday he'll even make his grandfather's "broken heart soar."

Maria Testa's tender verse novel tells a story about family love that is as hopeful and ageless as the American dream.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

Set in 1936 in the United States, Becoming Joe DiMaggio is a short verse novel about a young boy of Italian heritage, Joseph Paul. His hero is Joe DiMaggio a famous baseball player who he idolises. He has a close relationship with his grandfather Papa-Angelo and together they share a love of baseball. Joseph’s father is in and out of jail and so it is Papa-Angelo who Joseph Paul most relates to. The story shows us how despite difficult times Joseph Paul grows up with dreams and love.

This is a tender story, most suited to the verse structure. Its use of words is sparse but also very revealing, for example when talking of the victory of the US over Japan in World War II:

            …the sound of people

            cheering, clapping,

            stomping their feet,

            the sound of victory.


            What did the blast sound like?

            V-J Day, people called it,

            Victory Over Japan,

            The war is over.


            I couldn’t imagine

            anyone cheering

            in  Hiroshima.

A worthwhile read.

Trent , Adelaide, Australia

Becoming Joe DiMaggio tells the tale of an Italian-American boy named by his grandfather as Joseph Paul, escaping a difficult life by listening to his idol, Joe DiMaggio playing baseball for the New York Yankees on the radio. Understandably, his life is difficult because of three events happening at once:  his father is a criminal, the book is set during the depression and the book was set when America joined World War II. Through listening to the legendary baseball player, Joseph Paul learns the importance of having a dream and using such a famous player as his role-model. Accompanied with charcoal and pastel illustrations, it sets a peaceful and tranquil mood which suits the book excellently. After all, it is a story based on growing up through tough times and the importance of striving for a goal.

Despite the book being short, it has been written to provide a powerful, yet meaningful storyline. This is a short, meaningful and inspirational verse novel.

Jason, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Becoming Joe DiMaggio is the touching tale of young Joseph Paul as he grows up in 1940s New York City. His father is a criminal and his mother struggles to feed them, but his grandfather has dreams. The story is one of hope, determination, and wishing to be someone like Joe DiMaggio, a hero of the times; but in the end Joseph decides to be himself.

This is a good book and is well suited for its target audience of upper primary school students, though I enjoyed it too. The author has managed to recreate the feeling of the time and how life was like for people of the time. She has also managed to capture how it felt to look up to a hero like Joe DiMaggio.

Eian, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

This novel in verse is about a boy who has since birth grown to love baseball and one man named Joe DiMaggio. Joseph Paul was born into an Italian family in America, and his father and he would sit in front of the radio for every game waiting for the name Joe DiMaggio.

This was a nice read and is also short. It is a very enjoyable book and I would recommend it to anyone around the age of 10.

Tim, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Back to verse novels list