Cover image for Float like a butterfly
Float like a butterfly
Shange, Ntozake.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, [2002]

Physical Description:
30 unnumbered pages ; 29 cm
An introduction to the legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, including his accomplishments as a fighter and his contributions to society.
General Note:
Additional title: Muhammad Ali, the man who could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.7 0.5 65621.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1132.A44 S43 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History
GV1132.A44 S43 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV1132.A44 S43 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
GV1132.A44 S43 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. Obie Award-winning author Ntozake Shange offers children a compelling testimony to the courage resilience and talent of Muhammed Ali. Deftly dancing through Ali's life while touching on all the major events and victories therein, Shange shows how he managed to rise out of the segregated South to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Rodriguez's artwork combines pastel, woodblock ink and spray paint to beautifully capture Ali's power, beauty and spontaneity. With a time line and resource guide. Ages 5-9.

Author Notes

Ntozake Shange is a writer, educator, and poet. She was born Paulette Linda Williams in Trenton, New Jersey on October 18, 1948. Shange graduated from Barnard College in 1970 and entered the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, earning a master's degree in 1973. It was while in graduate school that she adopted her African name.

Shange taught writing and took part in poetry readings and dance performances. She taught drama and creative writing at several colleges and universities, including Yale and Howard. In 1983, Shange became associate professor of drama at the University of Houston.

Shange wrote For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, a choreopoem that opened on Broadway in 1976. The show won an Obie Award and was nominated for an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy. Shange also wrote the trilogy, Three Pieces, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry in 1981. She also received an Obie in 1981 for her adaptation of Bertold Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children. Shange has also published novels, collections of poetry, and a children's book.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. This picture-book biography begins with a stark two-page spread depicting a young Cassius Clay using the water fountain marked "colored" while staring intently at the one for whites. The book follows Clay through his childhood in Jim Crow-era Louisville, Kentucky, and chronicles how he becomes Muhammad Ali, three-time heavyweight champion of the world. Rodriguez's pastel-and-gouache paintings reflect the frenetic energy of their subject by allowing Ali's color (darker than in real life) to seep outside the inked outline of his body, and his subtle utilization of spray paint lends an urban edge to the pictures. As in Doreen Rappaport's Martin's Big Words (2001), the design emphasizes certain words and phrases. Unlike that work, though, the phrases in bold type aren't always quotations, and some of them ("HEAVEN," "1960 OLYMPICS") fall flat. Shange, best known for the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide . . . ," has masterfully captured the unique cadence of Ali's voice as she offers an unabashedly positive story that will leave kids cheering and shadowboxing. --John Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Shange (I Live in Music) offers a streamlined, clearly affectionate account of the life of Muhammad Ali, who, she says in an introductory note, continues to inspire "hope and courage." Her portrait effectively reveals the fighter's personality, re-creating conversations between young Cassius and his parents and later quoting some of his well-known proclamations. Rodriguez (Mama Does the Mambo) begins with a close-up view of the subject as a child, poised and gazing heavenward, then shifts to a full-bleed spread that conveys the historical backdrop: the boy stands at a "colored" water fountain, on the right of the horizontal painting, looking across the gutter at a "white" fountain ("As a boy, he struggled to make his way in the segregated world of the pre-civil rights South," reads the text). The author subtly intimates that his parents are the source of Ali's confidence (his father compliments him on his way with words; his mother tells him, "So long as you are alive, I want you to remember, you are God's work"). The volume nicely characterizes this modern-day hero, with poster-like illustrations and punchy text, but for a more thorough picture-book biography, readers will do better with last season's Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali (Walker) by James Haskins, illus. by Eric Velasquez. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Shange sings Muhammad Ali's praises in this visually appealing picture-book tribute. The first half of the book highlights significant events in Ali's childhood. The theft of his bike inspired him to begin boxing; growing up amid racism in the pre-civil rights South fueled him to excel to become the greatest. The text touches on his embrace of Islam, his name change, his refusal to fight in Vietnam, and major wins and losses in the ring. The story whizzes by with lightning speed and is spare enough to read aloud in one sitting. Bordered quotes in bold print jump off the pages. There is not a negative word about the former champ, though his career and personality are certainly not without controversy. The cartoon artwork, full page and double spread, is a definite draw for comic-book fans. The action-packed illustrations are as dramatic as the text and accentuate the superhero theme, never letting readers forget that Ali is "a hero for all time."-Ajoke' T. I. Kokodoko, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.