Becoming Muhammad Ali

by James Patterson (Author) Dawud Anyabwile (Illustrator)

Becoming Muhammad Ali
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

From two heavy-hitters in children's literature comes a biographical novel of cultural icon Muhammad Ali.

Before he was a household name, Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson join forces to vividly depict his life up to age seventeen in both prose and verse, including his childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing. Readers will learn about Cassius' family and neighbors in Louisville, Kentucky, and how, after a thief stole his bike, Cassius began training as an amateur boxer at age twelve. Before long, he won his first Golden Gloves bout and began his transformation into the unrivaled Muhammad Ali.

Fully authorized by and written in cooperation with the Muhammad Ali estate, and vividly brought to life by Dawud Anyabwile's dynamic artwork, Becoming Muhammad Ali captures the budding charisma and youthful personality of one of the greatest sports heroes of all time.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review

Newbery Medalist Alexander (The Crossover) teams up with Patterson (the Max Einstein series) to deliver this propulsive fictionalized biography of boxer, activist, and cultural icon Muhammad Ali, beginning with his early life as Cassius Clay. Structured in “rounds” in lieu of chapters, anecdotal narration describes his rise to prominence, starting with 16-year-old Cassius’s 1958 fight for the Golden Gloves championship and ending with his 2016 death after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Alternating narrators tell the story: prose lines by Lucky, a childhood friend of Cassius’s, gives readers a front-seat view of the boxer’s young life in the West End of Louisville, Ky.—his supportive working-class parents, his dislike of school, and his experiences with segregation—and his gradual ascent from Golden Gloves hopeful to three-time world heavyweight champion. In spare, witty lines of free verse, Cassius’s narrative illustrates his charisma, drive, and work to, in his beloved grandfather’s words, “know who you are, Cassius. And whose you are. Know where you going and where you from.” Black-and-white art by Anyabwile (The Crossover graphic novel adaptation) visually anchors scenes both domestic and iconic in this powerful, accessible view of a fascinating figure. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Used with permission

James Patterson
James Patterson is the world's bestselling author. He has donated more than one million books to students and soldiers, as well as millions of dollars to independent bookstores and school libraries. He lives in Florida with his family.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Jimmy Patterson
Publication date
October 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV057000 - Juvenile Fiction | Stories in Verse (see also Poetry)
JUV004020 - Juvenile Fiction | Biographical | United States
JUV039120 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Prejudice & Racism
JUV032000 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | General
Library of Congress categories
Texas Bluebonnet Master List
2022 - 2023

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