Reviews for Champ : The Story of Muhammad Ali


Booklist Reviews 2004 November #2
Gr. 2-5. In simple, clear, and lively text, Bolden introduces both Ali the fighter and Ali the activist. Beginning with Ali's childhood in Louisville, Bolden retells the famous anecdote of Ali choosing to become a boxer after his beloved Schwinn bicycle was stolen. Then come the highlights of Ali's biography: his Olympic medal, heavyweight championship, conversion to Islam, refusal to be drafted, and the activism and brilliant victories that marked the latter half of his career. Bolden also includes several of Ali's famous rhymed poems. These, along with the use of repetition and action words, make for a lively text. The words interact well with Christie's sturdy acrylic paintings so that, for instance, when we see Ali punching at the heavy bag, the text slants as the bag does, as if the words themselves are feeling Ali's power. While this book acknowledges Ali as a controversial figure, it largely portrays him as a man who "loved people--all people." That certainly wasn't true, especially early on, but kids will respond to the message. ((Reviewed November 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
This carefully documented biography is informative, lively, and provides an appealing introduction to the man who had good reason to say, "I'm the greatest." Well-paced, the book ends with a short description of Ali's campaigns for human rights and international understanding in recent years. Bold illustrations appropriately emphasize the boxer's head and hands. Bib. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #1
Cassius Clay rhymed and danced his way to the boxing world championship in 1964; joined the Black Muslims, renaming himself Muhammad Ali; fought the U.S. government and won the right to refuse the draft; and regained his title not once but twice before retiring from the ring. This well-paced biography ends with a short description of his continued support of human rights and international understanding in recent years, in spite of a failing body. Christie's bold acrylic and colored-pencil illustrations, some on double-page spreads, appropriately emphasize Ali's head and hands. This oversize picture book could easily be shared with a group, but the typography interferes with smooth reading, with line breaks at inappropriate points and awkwardly angled blocks of print placed to serve the design more than the sense. The careful documentation includes source notes and a selected bibliography -- welcome in books for younger readers. The Champ is more informative than Ntozake Shange's Float like a Butterfly (rev. 11/02), more lively and less dense than Jim Haskins's Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali (rev. 7/02), and provides an appealing introduction to a man who had good reason to say, "I'm the greatest." Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2004 December #2
Muhammad Ali remains an interesting, colorful persona long after his amazing boxing career. Here the author tells his story in a manner befitting his strong personality, recalling boyhood experiences as the young Cassius Clay finds his avocation and describing key opponents and matches with excitement enhanced with quotes from some of Ali's famous boastful verses. She doesn't merely recreate a play-by-play listing of Ali's sports achievements, but also emphasizes his fierce determination in all his endeavors. Bolden portrays the whole man, including the controversies and disappointments concerned with his conversion to Islam and his refusal to participate in the draft, as well as the physical disabilities that resulted from too many blows to the head. She accomplishes all of this in language that is clear and concise without being condescending. The text pops with a variety of fonts, print size, color and orientation on the page. Christie's strongly hued, highly stylized paintings are eye-catching and well integrated with the text. This is picture-book biography at its best. A fascinating introduction to an intriguing person. (notes, source list) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

----------------------
Library Media Connection Reviews 2005 March
This over-sized picture biography captures the essence of Muhammad Ali-the boldness, the swagger, the athleticism, the humanitarianism, and the greatness. Beginning with the young Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, the animated and syncopated text follows Ali through his childhood and early training, his 1960 gold medal performance at the Rome Olympics, his boxing career, his conversion to Islam, and his troubles with the draft board. Some of the most dramatic passages describe his professional bouts, incorporating Ali's unforgettable proclamations. His defeats and comebacks including three world championships are documented, and his popularity and international celebrity are detailed. The book also reports how boxing destroyed Ali's physical health, but emphasizes how he continues to advocate for tolerance and world peace. The final pages describe the frail Ali lighting the Olympic torch at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta. Bold, vibrant illustrations compliment the text, which appears in various colors and fonts, creating active, visually enticing images. The vivid cover will attract browsers, and the unique layout and engaging content hold their attention. Ali's struggles, accomplishments, and charisma are presented so that young readers will be able to fully appreciate his impact. An excellent introduction to biography, as well as an inspiring read-aloud, this selection should be a popular choice at any time. Highly Recommended. Kathleen McBroom, Media Specialist, Dearborn (Michigan) Public Schools © 2005 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 January #1
The creators of Rock of Ages: A Tribute to the Black Church present an impressionistic tribute to the man born as Cassius Clay. Bolden shapes a poetic if awkwardly paced narrative that includes self-assured quotes by the fighter, often in his famous couplets, and features type of various fonts, colors and sizes. The author first recounts episodes from Cassius Clay's Louisville, Ky., childhood, among them the familiar story of the theft of the 12-year-old's beloved bicycle. When he pledged that he would "whup" the culprit, an officer advised the "string-beany boy" to learn to fight first. Bolden goes on to spotlight the athlete's triumphs in the ring, his conversion to the Nation of Islam, his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War when drafted and the eventual decline of his boxing career. At its best, the narrative emulates the boxer's catchy rhythms and rhymes, but the story's usually spirited cadence stumbles in spots, making for some flat passages ("By 1964, he had won nineteen straight fights. People started watching Cassius Clay a lot"). Yet vibrant writing soon follows: "With his strong, limber, legs, he'd spring around the ring on the balls of his feet or up on his toes," accompanied by Christie's strongest portrait of the legendary fighter, conveying his intelligence, intensity and impressive physique. Unfortunately, on balance, the stylized, vividly hued acrylic-and-colored-pencil illustrations are as uneven as the text. Ages 5-8. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #4
"In this impressionistic tribute to the man born as Cassius Clay, Bolden shapes a poetic if awkwardly paced narrative that includes self-assured quotes by the fighter, often in his famous couplets, and features type of various fonts, colors and sizes," said PW. Christie's strongest portraits of Ali "convey his intelligence, intensity and impressive physique." Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 January
Gr 1-5-This picture-book biography touches on some of the most complex and fascinating aspects of the boxing champion's life, such as his conversion to Islam, his refusal to fight in Vietnam, and his penchant for boastful rhymes. Bolden's engaging text has a free-verse structure punctuated with enthusiastic exclamations that is enjoyable to read aloud. The book is ideal for browsing or to highlight in a booktalk, but it may not appeal to patrons seeking a straightforward source for assignments or young sports fans who want to see realistic art. The illustrations are striking from a graphic-design standpoint: Christie's use of bold pinks and yellows, sketchy pencil lines, and dark strokes of paint illuminate the playful text and emphasize Ali's exciting life and flamboyant personality. This is a fine addition for collections with several titles about the champ and for libraries where this artist's work is popular.-Anne M. Holcomb, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

----------------------