The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones


Saddle up! We're headed for Deadwood. When Prometheus Jones wins a horse with the raffle ticket he got from Pernie and LaRue Boyd, he knows things won't go smoothly. No way are those two rednecks going to let a black man, even a freeman from the day of his birth, keep that horse. So as soon as things get ugly, he jumps on the horse, pulls his friend Omer up behind him, and heads off. They hook up with a cattle drive out of Texas heading for Deadwood, North Dakota. Prometheus is a fine hand with a horse and not so...

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The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones

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Saddle up! We're headed for Deadwood. When Prometheus Jones wins a horse with the raffle ticket he got from Pernie and LaRue Boyd, he knows things won't go smoothly. No way are those two rednecks going to let a black man, even a freeman from the day of his birth, keep that horse. So as soon as things get ugly, he jumps on the horse, pulls his friend Omer up behind him, and heads off. They hook up with a cattle drive out of Texas heading for Deadwood, North Dakota. Prometheus is a fine hand with a horse and not so bad with a gun, and both skills prove useful as the trip north throws every twist and turn imaginable at the young cowpokes. The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones, a Voice of Youth Advocates Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers book, revives the famous "dime novels" about "Deadwood Dick" written by Edward L. Wheeler, which, in turn, were loosely based on the autobiography of the African American cowboy Nat Love.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Anne E. Carroll
This engaging and fun-to-read novel is narrated by Prometheus Jones, a young black man who, with his cousin Omer, wins a horse in a lottery but then must flee west to escape the anger of two white men who would cheat Prometheus and his brother out of their prize. The novel follows Prometheus and Omer's experiences as they join a cattle drive through Kansas and Nebraska and into the Dakota Territories. This book is a great way to get middle school readers interested in the history of black cowboys: in her "Author's Note," Hemphill explains that she was inspired by the 1907 autobiography of the real African American cowboy Nat Love. She is realistic in her depiction of the racism of the period against African Americans, Mexicans, and especially Indians, but her main characters demonstrate how diverse cowboy communities were, and the ways the race was set aside in pursuit of the bigger goal of moving cattle. Hemphill's account of the cowboys' journey is entertaining and moving, and she gives a satisfying sense of what life on the trail was like, down to her description of the food cowboys ate, her rendering of their speech patterns, and her account of challenges like river crossings and buffalo stampedes. The book is a great read, and it is sure to hold the attention of any young readers interested in cowboys or life out West in the late 1800s. Reviewer: Anne E. Carroll
Mary Schmutz
Prometheus Jones has won a fine horse fair and square in a town raffle. It's too bad no one is happy for him except his cousin, Omer Shine. After all, just because blacks are free in these post-Civil War times doesn't mean blacks should have things those whites, like the Dills, have. These are just some of the troubles young Prometheus and Omer face as they traverse away from the Dills and onto a cattle drive to the Dakota area. They battle new biases from whites, Hispanics, and even the Indians. Along the way, Prometheus learns how to fend for himself and how to battle for the truth, whatever that truth may be. Even though this book is set in the post Civil War era, this has so much to offer young people of all backgrounds. Hemphill takes a tall tale and makes it applicable in today's society. Reviewer: Mary Schmutz
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Prometheus Jones, born to a Tennessee slave on the same day Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, has always had good luck, and, at age 13, he wins a horse in a raffle. Before she died, "Mama always told I was the luckiest child on earth. Might ride that horse clear to Texas and never look back." Indeed, Prometheus uses his newly acquired transportation to flee the racist rednecks who accuse him of stealing the raffle ticket. Because of his exceptional skill with horses, he and his sidekick cousin are invited to join a cattle drive to South Dakota. Along the way, they get a taste of the Wild West during the time of Manifest Destiny, Indian wars, and gold rush prospectors. Inspired by the autobiography of African-American cowboy Nat Love, this notable Western shows a side of cowboy life rarely depicted: the diversity found among one of the few groups at the time that valued a man's talents over the color of his skin. Hemphill's convincing vernacular narration and well-researched, hard-bitten details of life in the South and on the western range give this adventure story surprising depth. The fast-paced plot, punctuated by Prometheus's astonishing wins and losses, will lasso readers' interest.-Madeline Walton-Hadlock, San Jose Public Library, CA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590788967
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 10/3/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 1,347,882
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Hemphill grew up in Texas and now lives in Austin and Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of the novel Long Gone Daddy, which was published to considerable critical acclaim. The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones is her third book.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

    Prometheus Jones (gotta love his name!) is a young black boy turned cowboy. After the death of his mother and the luck of winning a one-eyed horse, Prometheus heads west along with his eleven-year-old cousin named Omer. Prometheus has headed to Texas to find the father he never knew. <BR/><BR/>THE ADVENTUROUS DEEDS OF DEADWOOD JONES doesn't hesitate to describe the rough and often dangerous life of the cowboy. The two young cowboys get themselves jobs with a cattle driving company and the adventure begins. There is enough cattle roping, gun slinging, and run-ins with Indians to satisfy the wildest western lover. Readers will learn about the dangers of stampeding cattle, swimming rushing rivers, and facing the possibility of being scalped by the Sioux. <BR/><BR/>Author Helen Hemphill offers something a bit different than the usual YA material. Her description of being a black cowboy in a world of mostly white cattle-drivers provides an interesting historical perspective most books don't include. Also, the fact that the hard-working, courageous characters are quite young compared to modern-day working teens provides not only entertainment, but also a heads-up that today's kids don't have it so bad at all.

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