Cover image for Ali : an American champion
Ali : an American champion
Denenberg, Barry.
Personal Author:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2014]

Physical Description:
81 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Puts the famous boxer in to historical context through the use of newspaper articles, interviews, opinion pieces, and photographs.
Reading Level:
1030 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.3 5.0 169507.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 9.2 9 Quiz: 63453.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Lancaster Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
Central Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History
Audubon Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
Kenilworth Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
Frank E. Merriweather Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
North Park Branch Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library GV1132.A4 D44 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



The impressive life story of Muhammad Ali is interwoven with vital moments in American history in this visually stunning, full-color biography.

The story of famed boxing champion Muhammad Ali is more appealing and accessible than ever before when told as though it's happening in real time, through photographs and ephemera such as report cards and training regimens, and through newspaper articles, interviews, letters to the editor, and "breaking news" radio and TV transmissions that have been created by the author based on his extensive research.

From the Civil Rights Movement to the Rome Olympics, from joining the Nation of Islam to refusing to fight in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali's fascinating life is interwoven with historical moments throughout the twentieth century to today.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The life of Muhammad Ali has been told many times, but Denenberg uses a type of creative nonfiction to tell the story in this attractive offering. The preface explains that the book is designed to provide a sense of immediacy. To that end, he has written various fictional publications and created interviews with fictional interviewees. Even with this disclaimer, the distinction is not always clear. For instance, Ali's high-school principal gets such a complete bio (high school, colleges, he helped desegregate the Louisville Free Public Library) that he seems like a real person. It's clear that Denenberg has done his research. He cover the bases, presenting Ali as the complex figure he was brash, controversial, and incredibly talented in the ring. The graphically strong layout is interspersed with two-page spreads discussing contemporary history: assassinations, Kent State, and, most important, the Vietnam War, in which Ali famously refused to fight. The book ends in 1996, with Ali lighting the Olympic torch. There are no notes, but time lines and an extensive bibliography will aid students who want to know more.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Using fictional news articles and other documents he creates, Denenberg (Titanic Sinks!) introduces readers to an unvarnished Muhammad Ali. The fabricated headlines, ringside reporting, letters to the editor and man-on-the-street interviews deliver myriad facts and the opinions, moving chronologically through the edgy pugilist's life and career. The author's voice is perhaps heard most clearly in the editorializing commentary of "reporter" Keith Kincaid. His articles for the invented Sportsworld Weekly follow Ali from his gold-medal win in the 1960 Rome Olympics to his shaky Olympic flame lighting in Atlanta in 1996. Reflecting on Ali's life, Kincaid writes, "I had a front-row seat as the big show rolled into town, because no one reflected and refracted the times like Ali did." Contextualizing Ali's story are spreads featuring b&w archival photos and summaries of significant events that shaped the 1960s and 1970s (the March on Washington, the Vietnam War). While Denenberg's unique storytelling format, with its lengthy articles in small newsprint typeface, might be daunting to some, his accessible "reportage" weaves a captivating biography of the iconic sports figure. A timeline and extensive bibliography are included. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-A first-rate biography of an American legend. In the author's note, Denenberg states that the story of Muhammad Ali has, over time, been "transformed into something easily digestible and unthreatening," but promises to "reveal the true story of Muhammad Ali" through this thorough recount of Ali's life. Starting when Ali (then Cassius Clay) was 12, the book relates his commitment to the sport, describing how after school was over, the boy worked until 6 pm, then trained until midnight. Denenberg also talks about Ali's endless badgering of his opponents, for example, showing up at opponent Sonny Liston's house in the middle of the night, "daring him to...have a go right then and there." Interspersed throughout is information about the turmoil of the time period, such as African Americans' fight for desegregation and equality. There's also material on the Vietnam War and how Ali reacted by joining the Nation of Islam, changing his name from Cassius Clay; his refusal to enter the army; and his association with civil rights leader Malcolm X. Most of the engaging narrative is done in the format of newspaper articles, man on the street interviews, and breaking news transmissions, all created by the author. Denenberg does an excellent job of capturing the era, and this book will serve as a gateway to discussions and lessons about this time in American history.- Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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