Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives to see what non-fiction others have to share, too. 

Title: Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Alix Delinois
Publisher: Collins
Publication Date: December, 2009
Genre/Format: Biography/Picture Book
Goodreads Summary: "I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me."
     He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky. His very first boxing coach, former police officer Joe Martin, told him, "You better learn how to fight before you start challenging people." Once considered the underdog, Cassius, later known as Muhammad Ali, would eventually win the title of heavyweight champion of the world. Acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers recounts the champ's most famous fights and examines the depth and complexity of the larger-than-life legend Muhammad Ali. The bold, vibrant art of Alix Delinois reflects the beauty and power of the man who could "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
What I Think: Muhammad Ali's story is more than just about boxing. It is about civil rights, religion, the Vietnam War, and Parkinson's disease. 
     Muhammad Ali was a nontraditional boxer and a person that beat his own drum. Walter Dean Myers makes sure to include many different quotes throughout to show the reader not only his personality but how others perceived him. 
     I loved the illustrations in this book. They were true pieces of artwork. Very colorful, bold and beautiful. I did feel that sometimes the artist focused more on the political issues for his illustrations instead of Muhammad's story. For example, there is a page where Muhammad was winning championships and there is one line about black people not being able to get into places and the illustration is of picketers and police with attack dogs. It just didn't seem to fit. I that the art and prose had connected more without, but I don't think it takes away too much from the book. 
     I am not quite interested in reading Myers's biography about Muhammad Ali because I know that there is much more to learn.
Read Together: Grades 2 to 8
Read Alone: Grades 3 to 5
Read With: The Greatest Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers, Nonfiction books about Muhammad Ali, boxing, civil rights, the Olympics
Snatch of Text: "Louisville was a quiet southern town. People rode buses to get around, but a lot of young boys preferred to ride their bicycles. 
     "One night this kid cam downstairs, and he was crying. Somebody had stolen his bicycle, and of course he was very upset about that," Joe Martin, a former policeman, said. "He was only twelve years old then, and he was going to whip whoever stole his bicycle. I said, 'Well, you better learn how to fight before you start challenging people.'"
     In his spare time Joe Martin taught kids how to box. Soon, Cassius became a student." (p. 5)
Mentor Text for: Text Features, Making Connections, Primary Sources
Writing Prompts: What is something that Muhammad Ali did that shows that he is brave and deserves to be called The People's Champion?
Topics Covered: Civil Rights, Boxing, Olympics, Race, Religion- Islam, Supreme Court, Africa, Parkinson's Disease
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