Float Like a Butterfly by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
We often hear about Mohammed Ali as either an activist or an athlete. In this compelling and accessible picture book, Ntozake Shange creates a more complete picture of one of the heroes of the twentieth century. I appreciate the chance to learn about his courage, the controversy of his convictions, as well as his quite amazing boxing abilities within one storyline. His background in the South of segregated mid-century America is told with honesty, as well as his rise from poverty to becoming heavy-weight champion of the world. I also loved the recreation of his dialogue with his parents when he was known by his birth name of Cassius Clay. While there are more complete picture book bios of Ali, I like this one to introduce young readers to a great man. The illustrations are bright and appealing and will draw in graphic novel fans. This picture book is great way to start the New Year by introducing young readers to contemporary heroes.