Muhammad Ali has become so much an integral part of our culture and pop culture that kids who weren't alive when he abandoned retirement to light the torch at the '96 Olympics know of him. Ali's brashness, his rhyming taunts of opponents that became songs of praise to himself, his husky voice — every kid who play-fights with his brother strikes the pose and invokes the butterfly and the bee. But Ali is more than the public act — he is a gold-medal winner who threw the prize in the river, a man who changed his name and his religion despite the controversy it caused, a fighter who refused to fight in Vietnam for religious reasons. Muhammad Ali is complicated, flawed, fascinating and unforgettable — he's a real person, not a catch phrase. Children's book author Charles R. Smith, Jr. explores the life of the "Greatest of All Time" in Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali. Written in Ali-appropriate rhyme, and illustrated by Bryan Collier, Twelve Rounds to Glory has been praised as a "shout-out read-aloud book" perfect for young readers. Smith discusses and signs copies of his book at 7:30 p.m. at the Carpenter branch of the St. Louis Public Library (3309 South Grand Boulevard; 314-772-6586 or www.slpl.org). Admission is free, and books will be available for purchase courtesy of Left Bank Books.
Tue., March 24, 2009