cover image Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion

Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion

Walter Dean Myers, illus. by Alix Delinois. Collins/Amistad, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-029131-0

This artful biography of Muhammad Ali begins with his childhood in Louisville, Ky.%E2%80%94he started learning how to fight after his bicycle was stolen%E2%80%94and offers snapshots of his hard-earned career in the world of boxing. Myers (Looking Like Me) attends to the tempestuous political and social climate that so profoundly shaped Ali, while newcomer Delinois's powerfully expressive illustrations evoke the energy and emotion of the civil rights movement and Ali's stance as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. In the boxing rink, Ali's and his opponents' bodies are fluid, with kinetic chalky outlines and blocks of paint capturing the glistening heat and intensity of the fight. Myers makes good use of direct quotations from Ali, his family members, and other contemporaries (at the Rumble in the Jungle, Ali taunts George Foreman, "Punch, sucker. I thought you could hit. That's a sissy punch"), though the lack of citation for the quotes is surprising. This visually striking account ends with Ali, stricken with Parkinson's disease, lighting the torch at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, still determined to fight. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)