A few things surprised me in this latest addition to the non fiction biography series Little People, Big Dreams. First that a police officer told him to learn how to fight if he wanted to face the thief that stole his bike. Second, that the 32 page book targeting 5 to 8 year old children has an AR level of 4.8 and finally that it does mention his conversion to Islam and shows him praying.
The biography hits a lot of major milestones in the boxer’s life after showing he once was a little kid too. He was born in Kentucky, had a younger brother and after his bicycle was stolen he started learning how to box. He wasn’t the strongest fighter, but he was fast.
He won a gold medal at the Olympics in Rome, and then set his sights on being a professional boxer and becoming the world heavyweight champion. Its nice that on this page the illustrations show that part of that pursuit involved physical training but the books and meditation show internal growth was valued and pursued as well.
It shows how he used to taunt his opponents and that some thought it poetry, while other’s thrash talk. It also makes it clear that he used his voice to speak out for things important to him at a time when it was dangerous and accepted the consequences, whether it was African American rights or the war.
The page about him becoming Muslim explains that he was inspired by Islam, changed his name and “felt strong and proud to be himself.” After his ban from boxing, he won the heavyweight belt three times before retiring and dedicating his life to community and giving back.
The book ends with a timeline and some real pictures of Muhammad Ali, along with some other books you can turn to for more information. The illustrations are comical yet detailed in their emotion and the information that is conveyed. Kids will enjoy them and find they give life to the simple text on the pages.
I got my copy from the library and my children aged 4-12 enjoyed the book as they have the other books in the series.