Matt Tavares was born in Boston, and grew up surrounded by books and reading. From the time he was very young, his mother read to him every night, and his family made countless trips to the public library. Years later, as a studio art major at Bates College, he rediscovered his love for picture books, and decided to try to make his own.
For his senior thesis project, Matt wrote and illustrated a story called Sebastian's Ball, about a boy who caught a magic foul ball at a Boston Red Sox game. Three years later, after much revision, Sebastian's Ball became Zachary's Ball, Matt's first published picture book. Zachary's Ball went on to win a Massachusetts Book Award Honor, and was named one of Yankee Magazine's 40 Classic New England Children's Books.
Since then, Matt has published eighteen more books and has won several awards, including three Parents' Choice Awards Gold Awards, an Orbis Pictus Honor, and two of Matt's books have been named ALA Notable books by the American Library Association. His artwork has been exhibited at the Museum of American Illustration, the Brandywine River Museum, and the Mazza Museum of Picture Book Art.
When Matt is not working in his studio on his latest book project, he travels the country speaking and drawing at schools, libraries, conferences, and bookstores. He has presented at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, the White House Easter Egg Roll, and he's even done a few book signings at Fenway Park.
Tavares is the author-illustrator of Red & Lulu, Growing Up Pedro, Henry Aaron's Dream, Mudball, Zachary's Ball, and Oliver's Game, the illustrator of The Gingerbread Pirates, Lighter Than AIr, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more.
- Zachary's Ball, Candlewick Press, 2000
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, attributed to Anonymous, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2002
- Oliver's Game, Candlewick Press, 2004
- Mudball, Candlewick Press, 2005
- Jack and the Beanstalk, Candlewick Press, 2006
- Iron Hans, retold by Stephen Mitchell, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2007
- Lady Liberty: A Biography, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2008
- The Gingerbread Pirates, written by Kristen Kladstrup, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2009
- Henry Aaron's Dream, Candlewick Press, 2010
- Jack's Path of Courage: The Life of John F. Kennedy, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Disney-Hyperion, 2010
- Over the River and Through the Wood, written by L. Maria Child, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2011
- Helen's Big World, by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Disney-Hyperion, 2012
- Becoming Babe Ruth, Candlewick Press, 2013
- Jubilee: One Man's Big, Bold and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace, by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2014
- Growing Up Pedro, Candlewick Press, 2015
- Crossing Niagara, Candlewick Press, 2016
- Lighter Than Air, by Matthew Clark Smith, Candlewick Press, 2017
- Red & Lulu, Candlewick Press, 2017
- Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, awarded by the National Council of Teachers of English (Henry Aaron's Dream, Recommended Book, 2010; Growing Up Pedro, Honor Book, 2015)
- ALA Notable Books (Growing Up Pedro, 2015; Helen's Big World, 2012)
- Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Awards (Zachary's Ball, Lady Liberty, Over the River and Through the Wood, Becoming Babe Ruth, Jack's Path of Courage, There Goes Ted Williams)
- Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People (Mudball, 2005; Lady Liberty, 2008; Becoming Babe Ruth, 2013; Jubilee, 2015; Crossing Niagara, 2016)
- California Young Reader Medal (Helen's Big World, 2016)
- Lupine Award (Henry Aaron's Dream, 2010 Honor Book, Helen's Big World, 2012; Jubilee, 2014 Honor Book; Growing Up Pedro, 2015 Honor Book)
- Massachusetts Book Award Honor (Zachary's Ball, 2000; There Goes Ted Williams, 2012; Jubilee, 2014, Growing Up Pedro, 2015)