Boxing legend Muhammad Ali comes to life for young readers.
Close-up, in-your-face oil illustrations and a lively text design with plenty of onomatopoeia (“POW! POW! POW!”) and quotations from the champ give readers a sense of the life and style of the great Muhammad Ali. Action scenes from the famous bouts with Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and Leon Spinks open the volume, which then goes back to a famous pivotal event in his life, when his bicycle is stolen and Cassius Clay (as was his name then) becomes determined to find the thief and “whup him.” The policeman on the scene, Officer Joe Martin, suggests that Cassius learn to fight. The story continues in gyms, following Cassius’ training days, abruptly jumping to a single page that wraps up his career and another that comments on Ali’s public persona. This is slight treatment given that 10 pages are devoted to the bike scene. However, framing the story with an opening painting of a lone heavy bag and closing with a deserted boxing ring is visually effective. A two-page endnote on Ali’s life offers plenty of details that might have been effectively incorporated into the story itself. As it is, readers may well be sufficiently tantalized to seek out other, more complete picture-book treatments.
An eye-catching if incomplete treatment of the legend. (Picture book/biography. 3-7)