Muhammad Ali is one of the world's best-known figures, and this incredible biography delves into precisely why. From his unlikely beginnings as a skinny, young Cassius Clay learning to box at a local gym to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world at the famous "Rumble in the Jungle," where even the skies let loose with rain right after his victory, Ali has captivated the world. Tonya Bolden's careful research and elegant telling, paired with R. Gregory Christie's incredible paintings, make this a book that will inform and inspire readers of all ages.
"Gr. 2-5. In simple, clear, and lively text, Bolden introduces both Ali the fighter and Ali the activist. Beginning with Ali's childhood in Louisville, Bolden retells the famous anecdote of Ali choosing to become a boxer after his beloved Schwinn bicycle was stolen. Then come the highlights of Ali's biography: his Olympic medal, heavyweight championship, conversion to Islam, refusal to be drafted, and the activism and brilliant victories that marked the latter half of his career. Bolden also includes several of Ali's famous rhymed poems. These, along with the use of repetition and action words, make for a lively text. The words interact well with Christie's sturdy acrylic paintings so that, for instance, when we see Ali punching at the heavy bag, the text slants as the bag does, as if the words themselves are feeling Ali's power. While this book acknowledges Ali as a controversial figure, it largely portrays him as a man who loved people--all people. That certainly wasn't true, especially early on, but kids will respond to the message. --John Green Copyright 2004 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"The creators of Rock of Ages: A Tribute to the Black Church present an impressionistic tribute to the man born as Cassius Clay. Bolden shapes a poetic if awkwardly paced narrative that includes self-assured quotes by the fighter, often in his famous couplets, and features type of various fonts, colors and sizes. The author first recounts episodes from Cassius Clay's Louisville, Ky., childhood, among them the familiar story of the theft of the 12-year-old's beloved bicycle. When he pledged that he would "whup" the culprit, an officer advised the "string-beany boy" to learn to fight first. Bolden goes on to spotlight the athlete's triumphs in the ring, his conversion to the Nation of Islam, his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War when drafted and the eventual decline of his boxing career. At its best, the narrative emulates the boxer's catchy rhythms and rhymes, but the story's usually spirited cadence stumbles in spots, making for some flat passages ("By 1964, he had won nineteen straight fights. People started watching Cassius Clay a lot"). Yet vibrant writing soon follows: "With his strong, limber, legs, he'd spring around the ring on the balls of his feet or up on his toes," accompanied by Christie's strongest portrait of the legendary fighter, conveying his intelligence, intensity and impressive physique. Unfortunately, on balance, the stylized, vividly hued acrylic-and-colored-pencil illustrations are as uneven as the text. Ages 5-8. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved