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Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy

Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy

by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney (Illustrator), Brian Davis Pinkney (Illustrator)

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The true sweat-and-dirt tale of the feisty cowboy-child who became the most famous black rodeo performer who ever lived. Includes a note about the history of the black West and a bibliography.


The true sweat-and-dirt tale of the feisty cowboy-child who became the most famous black rodeo performer who ever lived. Includes a note about the history of the black West and a bibliography.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] rip-snorting picture-book biography.”—Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review, PW called this biography of the first African-American inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame a "rip-roarin' salute to a legendary cowboy." Ages 4-8. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
This historical biography provides a unique glimpse into the Old West. Beginning with a description of a wagon train heading to Texas from South Carolina, the book points out that some of the travelers were slaves. A descendant of those slaves was Bill Pickett. As a small child, he discovered he could wrestle a steer to the ground by biting it in the upper lip as trained bulldogs did. After inventing "bull dogging" human-style, Bill went on to bring his unique talent to the rodeo circuit to introduce a new event to the sport. Bill Pickett is one of many African-American cowboys who played major roles in the history of the Old West. The afterward and further reading list included in this book will help guide young readers to learn more about these unique cowboys. Andrea Pinkney's text chronicles Bill Pickett's life from his grandparents forced migration to his death in 1932. Highlighting his rodeo feats, she also discusses the importance of family and the pivotal role storytelling played in the homes of the Pickett clan. Brian Pinkney's trademark scratchboard illustrations give a startling and vibrant quality to the text. Using mostly browns, red, and blues, he sets a dusty, cowboy mood.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
The first black rodeo performer was Bill Pickett who first wrestled a steer to the ground by sinkin' his teeth into the animal's lip when he was about 10. Bulldoggin', the cowboys called it. Bill learned to lasso and ride like the cowboys he'd seen on the Chisholm Trail. Soon he became so well known that he starred in the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. Bill Pickett, son of a slave, became the first African American inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. A picture book biography that will send readers on the trail of more information about African American cowboys. Scratchboard illustrations, hand-colored with oil paint, project a dynamic energy that enriches this story.
Kirkus Reviews
From the creators of Dear Benjamin Banneker (1994), rip-snorting picture-book biography of the first African-American cowboy inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Pickett, "quick as a jackrabbit, more wide-eyed than a hooty owl," left home at 15, having already invented his famous bulldogging technique—controlling balky cattle by gripping their lips with his teeth and twisting. As a "wild-riding South Texas brushpopper," he quickly earned a reputation working both ranches and the rodeo circuit, putting on shows from Mexico City to London, and making steer-wrestling the standard rodeo event it is today. Based on both published sources and interviews with one of Pickett's descendants (and with an afterword called "More About Black Cowboys"), this covers the essentials of his career while casting Pickett in the mold of a folk hero. Although readers may be disappointed to see only one scene of Pickett performing his spectacularly gross trick (sinking his teeth into the lips of a steer), the swirling lines and brushstrokes of the scratchboard illustrations ably second the text's energy and vivid imagery.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.10(d)
AD1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times best-selling author of several books for young readers, including the novel Bird in a Box, a Today Show Al Roker Book Club for Kids pick, and Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America, winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award. Additional works include the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book Duke Ellington, illustrated by her husband, Brian Pinkney; and Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, a Coretta Scott King Honor book and winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award. Andrea Davis Pinkney lives in New York City.

BRIAN PINKNEY is a celebrated picture-book illustrator who has won two Caldecott Honors. His many professional tributes also include the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and three Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors. He has collaborated with his wife, author Andrea Davis Pinkney, on several picture books including Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra and Sleeping Cutie. The Pinkneys live in Brooklyn, New York.

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