Black Heroes of the Wild West
by Smith, James Otis; Nelson, Kadir (INT)

""Black Heroes of the Wild West" celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black historical figures in the Old West: Mary "Stagecoach" Fields, a cardplaying coach driver; Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy S Marshall west of the Mississippi; and Bob Lemmons, a cowboy famous for his ability to tame mustangs"-

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."

*Starred Review* While American popular culture would have us believe that white men ruled the Wild West, Smith's stellar debut deftly proves otherwise. Many cowboys were Mexican vaqueros or Black; in fact, Black people made up nearly one-third of the population in some areas of the Western states and territories. This lively collection introduces readers to three figures frequently overlooked in the history books. Mary Fields left Ohio a free woman in 1865, crisscrossing the country and building community wherever she landed. Best known as Stagecoach Mary, she was the first African American to carry mail on the Star Route and she never missed a delivery. Bass Reeves was the first Black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. He captured over 3,000 fugitives and was very likely the inspiration for the iconic Lone Ranger. Bob Lemmons was born enslaved but became a successful pioneer, well known and respected for his way with horses and generous nature, despite experiencing constant discrimination for his mixed-race marriage. The boundless collective spirit of these three is captured though engaging storytelling and action-packed, full-color panel illustrations. Several pages of supplemental material, including many fascinating photos, drawings, and maps, shed much-needed light on the complex and multifaceted histories of Black and Indigenous peoples in the West during the Reconstruction era. Highly recommended for all collections. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

The racial and cultural diversity of the Old West gets the comic-book treatment in Smith‚??s exploration of the lives and adventures of three Black historical figures. The presence and contributions of Black people in the steady progression of the Western frontier have long been overlooked. Mary Fields was born enslaved and became a renaissance woman, working on steamboats, building a mission, driving a mail coach, and opening her own restaurant and laundry in Montana. Bass Reeves escaped enslavement and was recruited as the first Black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi, boldly pursuing and outsmarting over 3,000 outlaws in his career. Bob Lemmons, also born enslaved, was a living legend for his unmatched skill and unique method for safely capturing whole herds of wild horses. The somewhat romanticized stories of these three remarkable figures are balanced by rich backmatter providing timelines, photographs, and historical information that situate each one in the context of an entire generation of non-White settlers. Smith is also intentional about the inclusion of Native Americans in stories otherwise centering Black frontier folk. Nevertheless, brief cameos of unspecified Native peoples and factual though unexplored mentions of unceded land, displacement, and cultural violence peppering the narratives and backmatter are not quite enough to provide necessary nuance‚?"namely that we can reclaim Black heroes of the Old West while also acknowledging their roles in a devastating frontier expansion. It‚??s about time. (timelines, references, further information) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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