Becoming Muhammad Ali
Becoming Muhammad Ali
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Annotation: A biographical novel tells the story of Cassius Clay, the determined boy who would one day become Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Catalog Number: #238866
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Illustrator: Anyabwile, Dawud,
Pages: 310 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-316-49816-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-316-49816-6
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Patterson and Alexander, two heavyweights in the world of books (and their respective publishing houses), unite to tell the story of how Cassius Clay grew up to be Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time. The book, authorized by the Ali estate, is not so much a biographical novel as a chance to hang out with young Cassius Clay as he lives his daily life in Louisville in the late 1950s -- going to school, being with friends, shooting hoops, watching boxing on television, and working, while navigating the dangers of life in a segregated city, all of which is related in lean and eloquent first-person verse with plenty of white space on each page. Clay's poetic narration is framed by first-person prose sections (called "rounds" instead of chapters) by his (fictional) best friend Lucius Wakely, who, by the end of the story, writes for a big newspaper and is at ringside for the "Rumble in the Jungle," Ali's 1974 fight in Zaire against George Foreman. Anyabwile, who illustrated the graphic novel edition of Alexander's The Crossover (rev. 5/14), adds a powerful visual element with occasional dynamic, full-page black-and-white images; and a short bibliography is appended. Dean Schneider
Kirkus Reviews
Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Alexander (The Crossover) teams up with Patterson (the Max Einstein series) to deliver this propulsive fictionalized biography of boxer, activist, and cultural icon Muhammad Ali, beginning with his early life as Cassius Clay. Structured in -rounds- in lieu of chapters, anecdotal narration describes his rise to prominence, starting with 16-year-old Cassius-s 1958 fight for the Golden Gloves championship and ending with his 2016 death after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Alternating narrators tell the story: prose lines by Lucky, a childhood friend of Cassius-s, gives readers a front-seat view of the boxer-s young life in the West End of Louisville, Ky.-his supportive working-class parents, his dislike of school, and his experiences with segregation-and his gradual ascent from Golden Gloves hopeful to three-time world heavyweight champion. In spare, witty lines of free verse, Cassius-s narrative illustrates his charisma, drive, and work to, in his beloved grandfather-s words, -know who you are, Cassius. And whose you are. Know where you going and where you from.- Black-and-white art by Anyabwile (The Crossover graphic novel adaptation) visually anchors scenes both domestic and iconic in this powerful, accessible view of a fascinating figure. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Before boxer Muhammad Ali was "The Greatest," he was a boy named Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, who aspired to be a winner. In this fictionalized biography, powerhouse authors Patterson and Alexander chronicle teenaged Clay's rise to fame in 10 chapter "rounds." A childhood friend called Lucky starts each round with a prose narrative that sets the scenes to come in free verse poems told from Clay's perspective. The poems, often rhythmic and reminiscent of the boxer's inspiring, humorous, and artful expressions, relate Clay's working-class neighborhood with its close friendships, bullies, and first ups and downs with love. Still more poems recount the teen's undiagnosed learning disabilities, his coping skills, and his burgeoning views on racism. Readers feel the intensity rise in energetic poems that describe his fortuitous entry into boxing, focused training, quick thinking and off his feet d prominent boxing matches leading up to his Golden Gloves championships and Olympic gold medal. Together, the prose and poems reflect Clay's both public bravado and private humbleness as well as his appreciation and respect for family and friends. The "Final Round" gives a brief look at Ali's professional career as heavyweight champion of the world and his guiding beliefs against injustice. Adding to the punch are Anyabwile's large, expressive illustrations in a comic-book style. A knockout!
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (10/1/20)
Horn Book (8/1/20)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 307-308).
Word Count: 22,365
Reading Level: 5.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.4 / points: 3.0 / quiz: 509257 / grade: Middle Grades

From two heavy-hitters in children's literature comes a critically acclaimed biographical novel of cultural icon Muhammad Ali.
 
*"This utterly delightful story about Ali's childhood is a smash hit."
-- School Library Journal (starred review)
 
Longlisted for the 2022-2023 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award, and nominated for the 2021-2022 Black Eyed Susan Book Award!

Before he was a household name, Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson join forces to vividly depict his life up to age seventeen in both prose and verse, including his childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing. Readers will learn about Cassius' family and neighbors in Louisville, Kentucky, and how, after a thief stole his bike, Cassius began training as an amateur boxer at age twelve. Before long, he won his first Golden Gloves bout and began his transformation into the unrivaled Muhammad Ali.

Fully authorized by and written in cooperation with the Muhammad Ali estate, and vividly brought to life by Dawud Anyabwile's dynamic artwork, Becoming Muhammad Ali captures the budding charisma and youthful personality of one of the greatest sports heroes of all time.


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