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Becoming Muhammad Ali

Becoming Muhammad Ali

by James Patterson, Kwame Alexander

Unabridged — 2 hours, 34 minutes

James Patterson

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Two heavy-hitters in children's literature deliver a critically acclaimed, bestselling biographical novel of cultural icon Muhammad Ali. 

"This utterly delightful story about Ali's childhood is a smash hit."-School Library Journal (starred review)

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.

Longlisted for the 2022-2023 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award, and nominated for the 2021-2022 Black Eyed Susan Book Award!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 09/28/2020

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.)

From the Publisher

Praise for Becoming Muhammad Ali:

* "A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today's readers."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "The prose and poems reflect Clay's both public bravado and private humbleness as well as his appreciation and respect for family and friends. A knockout!"—Booklist, starred review

* "This utterly delightful story about Ali's childhood is a smash hit. Get this uplifting, informative book onto library shelves and into kids' hands."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "Cassius's narrative illustrates his charisma, drive, and work to know who you are."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Patterson and Alexander, two heavyweights in the world of books, unite to tell the story of how Cassius Clay grew up to be Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time."—The Horn Book, starred review

School Library Journal

★ 10/01/2020

Gr 4–8—Before the indomitable Muhammad Ali was known as a boxing legend and social justice leader, he was Cassius Clay, a young dreamer and fighter from Louisville, KY. As a young Black man, Cassius's childhood in the 1950s is shaped by the Southern United States' Jim Crow laws. Working towards a better life seems impossible; yet Cassius is a firm believer in who he is and where he's from. But where is he going next? It all begins with a stolen bike, a boxing ring, and unrelenting determination. Told in "Ten Rounds," this utterly delightful story about Ali's childhood is a smash hit. Patterson handles narrator Lucky's prose while Alexander crafts Cassius's poetry. This creates a distinct, clear flow for each Round, starting with a thought-provoking intro which then progresses into Cassius's rhythmic expansion of events. Despite many roadblocks along his boxing journey, Cassius's positive, winning demeanor reveals that the biggest hurdle when pursuing a passion is one's mindset. Though the overarching narrative ends with the 1959 Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, the "Final Round" chapter overviews Ali's life in and out of the ring. A bibliography is included. VERDICT The overwhelming positivity filling the pages encourages readers to never be afraid of who they are, making this story golden. Get this uplifting, informative book onto library shelves and into kid's hands.—Emily Walker, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2020-08-04
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)

Product Details

BN ID: 2940179014249
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication date: 10/05/2020
Series: Becoming Ali , #1
Edition description: Unabridged
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

Customer Reviews