Becoming Joe DiMaggio

Common Sense Media says

Poems about growing up during WWII.





What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Italian-Americans are referred to as dagoes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some background on DiMaggio and the period will help kids get more out of this. Written in free verse, it will appeal to reluctant readers because it's short, but it's literary and packs a lot of meaning, emotion, and ideas into few words.

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What's the story?

Joseph Paul is named after Joltin' Joe by his grandfather, Papa Angelo, with whom he spends his time listening to ball games on the radio. His father is in jail, and his mother has trouble making ends meet. Then World War II starts, his father comes home, and DiMaggio goes to war. But through the years, dreaming of becoming a ball player or a doctor, he yearns to make his grandfather's \"broken heart soar.\"

Is it any good?


Based on stories of the author's family, the book, written as 24 short, free-verse poems, weaves a delicate spell of humor, nostalgia, and sadness, and in doing so somehow captures two lives -- Joseph's and his grandfather's. It's astounding how much is hinted at and filled in in the reader's mind: the grandfather's difficult immigrant life and hopes for his son and then his grandson, the violent father's brushes with the law, the mother's trials in raising the family with and without him, the giftedness of the grandson, on whom the family's hopes are pinned, the career of DiMaggio and his importance to immigrant families.

This book is like a magic bag that holds so much more than physics allows. Your child may be surprised that in discussion it takes far longer to unpack all the layers of meaning and content than it did to read the book. That's the power of poetry.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how poetry can convey so much in such short space. How do you think this book would be different if it were a short story or a novel?

Book details

Author:Maria Testa
Illustrator:Scott Hunt
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:June 23, 2004
Number of pages:51
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

This review of Becoming Joe DiMaggio was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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