Cover image for Becoming Kareem : growing up on and off the court
Title:
Becoming Kareem : growing up on and off the court
ISBN:
9780316555388
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
289 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
990 L Lexile
Personal Subject:
Summary:
"An autobiography about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his life growing up in New York, becoming the basketball star he's known to be, and getting involved in the world around him as an activist for social change"--
Holds:

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
The first memoir for young readers by sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's life was packed with "coaches" who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar's life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement. The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiring journey.

Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court.


Author Notes

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, he has been an actor, a basketball coach, and the author of many New York Times bestsellers. Abdul-Jabbar is also a columnist for many news outlets, such as The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, writing on a wide range of subjects including race, politics, age, and pop culture. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador and in 2016 Abdul-Jabbar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award which recognizes exceptional meritorious service. He lives in Southern Californi


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Basketball legend Abdul-Jabbar awkwardly reads the audio edition of his memoir aimed at young listeners. The book recounts his childhood and timid teenage years in NYC, his transformation into a basketball phenomenon, his success on the court, and his spiritual growth and conversion to Islam. Throughout, he talks about the people he met and admired-such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Wilt Chamberlain-who left enduring marks on his political views and life on and off the court. Unfortunately, Abdul-Jabbar's performance lacks confidence and too often sounds like he's reading off the page rather than telling his life story. Abdul-Jabbar's story is fascinating, but the audiobook is frustrating to listen to. Ages 10-13. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

Born Lewis Alcindor, "Lew" changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ("noble servant of God") in 1971 at age twenty-four, marking a religious, cultural, and political awakening for the basketball great. In clear and straightforward prose, Abdul-Jabbar writes a rich and nuanced sports story of growing up in the civil rights era. A sixteen-page insert of well-captioned black-and-white photos is a nice bonus. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is nearing 70, and from that vantage, he writes, he is able to see the big picture, which is comprised of the many details, observations, and revelations that comprise this autobiography. It begins with a name. Abdul-Jabbar was born Lewis Alcindor. It wasn't until he was a 24-year-old student of Islam that he assumed the name the world knows, which signaled who he wanted to be and is the substance of this fine, thoughtful memoir. More than a play-by-play sports story, it's an honest, powerful exposition of what it means to be black in white America, offering a de facto history of the civil rights movement. But it's also a celebration of education and the teachers who helped him become Kareem; teachers like his UCLA mentor Coach John Wooden; Dr. John Henrik Clarke of the Harlem Youth Action Project, who Abdul-Jabbar says was crucial to him in understanding my path; sports legends Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali; and others. Most of all, this is a coming-of-age story that focuses entirely on Abdul-Jabbar's childhood and young adulthood and demonstrates how this foundation would lead to his becoming one of the most successful and famous basketball players of all time. An inspiring and very human story.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2017 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

How should adults present the grave injustices throughout black history to young readers? Biographies can help. HISTORY IS A STORY like any other, but black history is a story so devoid of logic that it frustrates the young reader. The young readers in my house, told of slavery and segregation, asked in disbelief: "What? Why?" We - the parents of black children, the parents of all children - still need to tell that story. It comforts the adult conscience to remember that amid history's grave injustices there were still great lives. Hence, I suspect, the preponderance of biographies for children published to coincide with Black History Month. Among that genre's newest arrivals are names familiar to adults, as in THE UNITED STATES V. JACKIE ROBINSON (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99, ages 4 to 8), written by Sudipta BardhanQuallen. This picture book is more interested in young Robinson's less-known act of resistance during his Army days than in his later, trailblazing career as a baseball player. It's nice to have an athlete celebrated for personal integrity over physical prowess, and R. Gregory Christie's pictures bolster this, evoking a Robinson who is strong and sure, but also smiling, warm, and ultimately, triumphant. Ella Fitzgerald is more than a familiar name; understanding this, Helen Hancocks has called her new picture book ELLA QUEEN OF JAZZ (Frances Lincoln Children's Books/Quarto, $17.99; ages 4 to 8). Hancocks's illustrations are superb - bright and suitably retro in style. But her tale takes a turn that is not the one Fitzgerald deserves. The focus is mostly on how Fitzgerald's friendship with Marilyn Monroe helped her career, and the movie star, alas, upstages the singer. BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET (Holiday House, $17.95; ages 4 to 8) is a straightforward picture-book biography of the exceptional Harriet Ttibman. In minimalist verse, Lesa Cline-Ransome begins with the woman in her dotage, then walks readers back through her years as suffragist, spy and liberator - but also, importantly, as a woman who simply wanted to be free. James E. Ransome's lovely watercolor illustrations capture Ttibman's daring, her joy and her dignity. Sandra Neil Wallace's BETWEEN THE LINES: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, $17.99; ages 4 to 8), illustrated by Bryan Collier, is a beautiful testament to a quintessentially American life. Wallace and Collier celebrate both Barnes's success on the gridiron and his subsequent reinvention as an artist. As in "The United States v. Jackie Robinson," athleticism is a secondary concern; early on, we see the young Barnes in a museum, wondering where the black painters are, and the story ends with contemporary young museumgoers being shown Barnes's art. This choice makes the story so satisfying, and just what you want at bedtime. In LET THE CHILDREN MARCH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, $17.99; ages 6 to 9) Monica Clark-Robinson tells one girl's story of the 1963 children's march on Birmingham. Frank Morrison's illustrations are loose and modern in spirit, enlivening the history lesson. It's understandable to want to channel Martin Luther King Jr.'s oratorical gifts when writing about him, but sometimes the metaphors strain. Still, the book's message is clear and bracing: King understood that it's children who will lead the way, and the man's faith in the future is reassuring even now. Two biographical compendiums, Vashti Harrison's LITTLE LEADERS: Bold Women in Black History (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99; ages 8 to 12) and Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins's YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK (Wide Eyed Editions/Quarto, $22.99; ages 7 to 10) are, by contrast, not bedtime reading but texts that belong in any home library, to be revisited again and again. Wilson's book celebrates a variety of black achievement; there are biographical sketches of Kofi Annan and Stevie Wonder, Solange Knowles and Naomi Campbell, accompanied by Andrea Pippins's illustrations, full of verve but also quite dignified. The candy-colored pages and straightforward stories are hard to resist, and will doubtless forever shape the way many readers think about Wangari Maathai and Langston Hughes. Harrison's book focuses on great black women, and it's lovely to see Lorna Simpson and Gwen Ifill ascend to the ranks of Marian Anderson and Bessie Coleman. Harrison wants readers to imagine themselves in such august company; her adorable illustrations depict all of these figures as a little black girl, an everygirl, in a variety of costumes and backdrops. Harrison and Wilson have similar projects. But which book is better? I'd like to point out that my sons own around 40 volumes on the subject of trucks. Young readers deserve both these books. FOR OLDER READERS The person most qualified to tell the tale of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the man himself, as gifted an intellect as he is an athlete. Written with Raymond Obstfeld, his autobiography, BECOMING KAREEM: Growing Up On and Off the Court (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99; ages 10 and up) is aimed at middle grade readers but could and should be read aloud to younger kids. It's a tale by a wise elder - about basketball, sure, but also about cultural, political, social and religious awakenings, big stuff narrated in a very accessible way. MARTIN RISING: Requiem for a King (Scholastic, $19.99; ages 9 to 12) is a collaboration by two of children's literature's most well-known names, Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney (who happen to be married). It's a work of verse, with some prose end matter to help elucidate the poems, and it will reward a reader sophisticated enough to grapple with language and metaphor. Andrea Davis Pinkney frames her poem cycle about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last months with the figure of Henny Penny, the bird who either worried or prophesied, and she makes King's death feel as significant as the falling of the sky above. It is, of course, a terrible and sad story, but one in which Brian Pinkney's illustrations manage to find beauty. King is an evergreen subject, so significant and complex that the story of his life and death can withstand repeated tellings. James L. Swanson's CHASING KING'S KILLER: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin (Scholastic, $19.99; ages 12 and up) is a departure, less classroom text than airport thriller. It's a bit like sneaking kale into brownies: Swanson offers plenty of context on King's activism and his turbulent times, but frames the book as a manhunt for James Earl Ray. This approach makes education feel more like entertainment, and will prove seductive to even a reluctant older reader. My children are too young, yet, for Swanson's thriller and the Pinkneys' elegiac tribute, or maybe I simply want to believe that they are. They have a lifetime of reading ahead, particularly if they are to meet Dr. King's expectations for them. For now, my boys can suspend disbelief and accept that Pippi Longstocking can lift a horse and plays with pistols. But they won't be able to believe what happened to Dr. King in Memphis. Who among us can? RUMAAN alam is the author of two novels, "Rich and Pretty" and "That Kind of Mother," which will be published next month.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-In this young readers edition, legendary basketball star Abdul-Jabbar, born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., reflects on his life from childhood to school to the basketball court, shedding light on the experiences and people who helped shape him into the man he became and discussing how his search for peace, meaning, and fulfillment led him to Islam. © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

One of the greatest basketball players of all time reminisces on the lessons that pushed him into a life of personal reinvention.In our current moment when black athletes are joining the national confrontation with the nation's overwhelming legacy of racial injustice, few are better suited to provide context than Abdul-Jabbar. At 24, the newly minted NBA Finals MVP publicly embraced his conversion to Islam by renaming himself, choosing to become the person he wanted to be. The reactions stretched from confusion to outrage and betrayal. For this Harlem native, the influence of the massive 1960s civil rights and '70s Black Power movements and the examples set by Dr. Martin Luther King, historian John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali had a lasting influence on the superstar and scholar. Abdul-Jabbar recalls them and more, including most significantly coach John Wooden of UCLA, where Abdul-Jabbar and the Bruins accumulated an awe-inspiring 88-2 record. Wooden's lessons would extend well beyond the basketball court. Abdul-Jabbar lets his many other, worldly accomplishments sit in the background, choosing to focus on the long road of self-discovery, which included many blemishes, mistakes, and struggles. Wrestling with what it means to be black, determining his own responsibility and capacity to respond to injustice, and becoming the "kindest, gentlest, smartest, lovingest, version" of himself takes center stage in this retelling of the early part of his life.Like the author's unstoppable sky hook, this timely book is a clear score. (Memoir. 10-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.