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TWELVE ROUNDS TO GLORY by Charles R. Smith Jr.


The Story of Muhammad Ali

by Charles R. Smith Jr. & illustrated by Bryan Collier

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7636-1692-2
Publisher: Candlewick

Smith’s most ambitious project to date celebrates the life of Muhammad Ali, from his Olympic gold medal in 1960, renowned fights with Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier, his personal battle with Parkinson’s syndrome to the dramatic lighting of the Olympic torch at the 1996 Atlanta games. The attractive, large-format design and the rap-inspired poems, arranged in 12 rounds like a boxing match, will attract readers. However, the combination of busy and dense layout, long poems with complicated rhymes and rhythms and a large amount of biographical information conveyed in the poems makes the volume daunting, even for experienced readers. Collier’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations range from spectacular to bizarre, demonstrating—as in his illustrations for Doreen Rappaport’s John’s Secret Dreams (2004)—a tendency for his work to be distractingly symbolic. A challenging, sometimes beautiful tribute to a modern-day hero—attractive, impressive and dramatic, but not a knockout. (timeline) (Poetry/nonfiction. 10+)