Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons: A Toon Graphic

by James Otis Smith (Author)

Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons: A Toon Graphic
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Exploring American history and finding diversity at its roots!

This graphic novel by JAMES OTIS SMITH celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black heroes who took control of their destinies and stood up for their communities in the Old West. Born into slavery in Tennessee, Mary Fields became famous as "Stagecoach Mary," a cigar-chomping, card playing coach driver who never missed a delivery. Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the wiliest lawmen in the territories, bringing thousands of outlaws to justice with his smarts. Bob Lemmons lived to be 99 years old and was so good with horses that the wild mustangs on the plains of Texas took him for one of their own.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

From the introduction by KADIR NELSON, winner of the 2020 Caldecott Award:

"Black Heroes of the Wild West is a brilliant and entertaining offering. Through sharp and evocative storytelling in the exciting medium of comics, lesser-known African American historical figures will be introduced to new generations of readers."


School Library Journal

Gr 4-6—Saddle up! To highlight the significant African American presence in the story of the so-called "Wild West," Smith presents in graphic format dramatic exploits of three larger-than-life Western figures who were born into slavery, then switches to prose with mostly period illustrations and photographs for a wagon full of back matter on real cowboys, relations with Native Americans, cattle drives, the myth of the Old West, and related topics. The informational beef is nutritious, but the first part really brings the sizzle, as readers are treated to views of "gun-toting, pants-wearing, punch-throwing" Mary Fields, aka "Stagecoach Mary," fighting off a pack of wolves; deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves cleverly collaring the murderous Clancy brothers without firing a shot; and "mustanger" Bob Lemmons corralling a herd of wild horses by convincing them that he's their lead stallion. The author sprinkles in colorful biographical details, adds nods to contemporaries such as Nat Love and Bill Pickett, then closes with generous dollops of relevant print and web resources. VERDICT Little dogies in middle grades won't need to be coaxed to snatch up this fresh and timely alternative to Lillian Schlissel's Black Frontiers: A History of African-American Heroes in the Old West.—John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

From the introduction by KADIR NELSON, winner of the 2020 Caldecott Award: "Black Heroes of the Wild West is a brilliant and entertaining offering. Through sharp and evocative storytelling in the exciting medium of comics, lesser-known African American historical figures will be introduced to new generations of readers."

"Stories of these three remarkable figures are balanced by rich backmatter providing timelines, photographs, and historical information." — Kirkus Reviews

"Highly recommended for all collections" - Booklist Starred Review

"Witty punch lines and comic strip-style illustrations . . . with an emphasis on biographical details and the landscape." —Publishers Weekly

James Otis Smith

James Otis Smith is the illustrator of Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem's Legendary Theatre, and a multi-talented artist whose work spans illustration, comics, motion graphics, and video. This is his first book as both author and illustrator. Smith lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Kadir Nelson is the author or illustrator of more than thirty children's books including The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander, which received the 2020 Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newbery Honor. In his introduction to Black Heroes of the Wild West, Nelson writes, "It's time that we hear every American's story: from every background and creed, we've all worked together to weave the grand tapestry of America."

Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781943145515
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
September 20, 2020
Series
-
Junior Library Guild
Gold Standard Selection
Little Maverick Reading List
Selection 2021

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