Float Like a Butterfly – story by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez


      Float Like a Butterfly (2nd ed.) – story by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez, Disney / Jump at the Sun, (9781368008273), 2017.

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Biography

What did you like about the book? Just as compelling now as when it was first published fifteen years ago, this new edition of Shange and Rodriguez’ biography of Muhammad Ali contains just one change from the original: it now lists Ali’s death in 2016.  For those who think of Ali as just a boxer, the focus here is on much more than that. Along with the main events of his life in the ring, Ali’s boisterous spirit is conveyed to readers. The many hurdles he overcame, including racism, his conscientious objection to the draft followed by prosecution for draft evasion, and his losses as well as wins are unflinchingly reported. Some of Ali’s most famous rhymes about himself appear, such as the one that led to the title of the biography, “I’m Muhammad Ali. / I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. / There’s nobody bigger or better than me.”  The flashy, eye-catching illustrations convey Ali’s larger than life energy in each frame.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Given how rich the material is for discussion, this would work as a read-aloud from preschool all the way up through middle school or as an informative text for grades 1 to 3.

Who should buy this book? Purchase in elementary school libraries or public libraries that either don’t already have the original or that need to replace worn out copies. It is also appropriate for inclusion in middle school picture book collections.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with other Picture Book Biographies.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Put it in your pile if you haven’t read it already.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  5/12/17

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