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...
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.
"Bolden's engaging text has a free-verse structure punctuated with enthusiastic exclamations. . . . Christie's use of bold pinks and yellows, sketchy pencil lines, and dark strokes of paint illuminate the playful text and emphasize Ali's exciting life." - School Library Journal, Starred
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.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Colorful speeches, interesting page layouts, and poetic writing bring life to the story of this dramatic prize fighter with "fine physique, cheetah eyes and moonbeam smile" who learned to "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" with a "super-fast—whiz-zip"—left jab," followed by "a thunderbolt right- it stunned." In a pre-rapper world, his rhymes were as famous as his speed, his struggles against prejudice and the draft. Perhaps not as well known is how he put his "fame to good use . . . speaking for peace between nations and among the races, spotlighting the plight of the needy, and spreading his joy." Bolden manages to capture all these elements with a voice that well-represents this sport's life hero. 2004, Knopf, Ages 7 to 12.
Muhammad Ali remains an interesting, colorful persona long after his amazing boxing career. Here the author tells his story in a manner befitting his strong personality, recalling boyhood experiences as the young Cassius Clay finds his avocation and describing key opponents and matches with excitement enhanced with quotes from some of Ali's famous boastful verses. She doesn't merely recreate a play-by-play listing of Ali's sports achievements, but also emphasizes his fierce determination in all his endeavors. Bolden portrays the whole man, including the controversies and disappointments concerned with his conversion to Islam and his refusal to participate in the draft, as well as the physical disabilities that resulted from too many blows to the head. She accomplishes all of this in language that is clear and concise without being condescending. The text pops with a variety of fonts, print size, color and orientation on the page. Christie's strongly hued, highly stylized paintings are eye-catching and well integrated with the text. This is picture-book biography at its best. A fascinating introduction to an intriguing person. (notes, source list) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)
Tonya Bolden is the author-editor of many wonderful, critically acclaimed books for adults and children. She lives in New York City.
R. Gregory Christie is a two-time Coretta Scott King Honor Book winner for illustration, most recently for his work on Anne Rockwell’s Only Passing Through, a picture-book biography of Sojourner Truth. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.