"Nelson plaits her narrative with Western lingo and homespun similes. . . . James' painterly oils swirl with energy, visible daubs creating the dusty, monumental landscape and equally monumental horses and humans. . . . A champion indeed." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The true tale of a cowboy's epic rodeo ride from acclaimed author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Caldecott Honoree Gordon C. James.
In 1911, three men were in the final round of the famed Pendleton Round-Up. One was white, one was Indian, and one was black. When the judges declared the white man the winner, the audience was outraged. They named black cowboy George Fletcher the "people's champion" and took up a collection, ultimately giving Fletcher far more than the value of the prize that went to the official winner. Award-winning author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson tells the story of Fletcher's unlikely triumph with a western flair that will delight kidsand adultswho love true stories, unlikely heroes, and cowboy tales.
|Publisher:||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||9.50(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is the author of The Book Itch, as well as three Coretta Scott King Award-winning books: No Crystal Stair, Bad News for Outlaws, and Almost to Freedom. She is a former youth services librarian in New Mexico. Visit her online vaundanelson.com.
As a fine artist, Gordon C. James works to achieve the highest level of beauty. His work has been in International Artist Magazine, and is part of the Paul R. Jones Collection. Gordon's illustrations, are soulful, and technically sound. He has won Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honors, a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal and the Kirkus Prize for his work.
Gordon lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife Ingrid and their children Astrid and Gabriel and their dog Rascal.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The biography of George Fletcher is told with beautiful illustrations and excellent lessons for readers. The book traces George Fletcher’s life from a young kid all the way to his famous saddle-bronc ride at the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up. George Fletcher was a cowboy and stellar bronc rider who eventually made it to the National Cowboy Hall of fame. But as this biography shows, it wasn’t an easy road for him and he was met with challenges of racism and bigotry – which he overcame to become “the people’s champion” at that 1911 contest. I loved this biography about a famous cow of whom I had not previously heard! I enjoyed the cowboy jargon worked into the narration (“took to their ways like a wet kitten to warm brick”; “life at home was no bushel of peaches”). This had me smiling throughout and helped pull the reader right into the setting of the story. Additionally, the story of George Fletcher’s life has a wonderful message about perseverance and finding something you love and doing it. Though intended for older kids (8-12 probably target), my 5 year old did enjoy this and was captivated by the idea of cowboys and bronc riding (it may have led to a few laps around the family room on parent horseback). The illustrations are beautiful paintings and help bring the story and its complexity to life. This is one I was happy to read over and over as requested by my kids (picking up something a little new each time I did).
George Fletcher was an incredibly talented cowboy and rider, yet he was only given second place at the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up. The author traces George's early life as his family took the Oregon Trail to the Northwest, his friendship with the children on the Umatilla Reservation, his lifelong love of horses, and the story of that historic rodeo. The illustrations capture the spirit of the horses and riders. The sense of movement comes across clearly in images of George "riding a make-believe bronco" or riding back to back on the same bucking horse with cowboy Jesse Stahl. But George's love of horses is also shown, especially in an image of young George blowing lightly into a horse's face. Stories of individuals who persevere and follow their passion despite prejudice are always a welcome addition to classroom and library collections. It is also good to have a wider variety of individuals to read about during Black History Month than the few Civil Rights figures that most lessons focus on. Authors such as Vaunda, who research stories that have been left out of the history books, help to fill gaps in our understanding and collective knowledge. I read an advance copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.