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From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

An amazing life effectively condensed into picture-book form, this makes a nice introduction to the greatest.

This brief biographical sketch of the late boxer Muhammad Ali highlights his sports personality and activism.

Cassius was confident from a young age, this book tells readers. When someone stole his bike, he told a police officer he wanted to face the thief. The officer suggested Cassius take boxing classes, and he did. With speed as his secret weapon, he dominated the junior boxing scene, winning an Olympic gold medal in Rome. From there, he went on to train for the world heavyweight championship. “To tease his opponents, Cassius often used rhymes, describing how he was going to win. Some thought it was trash-talk, but it sounded like poetry…and it worked!” Dedicated spreads show Ali’s victory against Sonny Liston, his speaking up for African-Americans’ rights, his conversion to Islam and name change, his conscientious objection to the Vietnam War and the professional consequences he suffered because of it, his amazing comeback, and his charity work toward the end of his life. Playful, stylized cartoon illustrations of people with curved limbs and round lips center Ali, often pictured as an oversized figure, surrounded by scenes that influenced him and groups representing the many people he influenced.

An amazing life effectively condensed into picture-book form, this makes a nice introduction to the greatest. (historical note, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-331-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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