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Bill Pickett

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.
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K-Gr 3‘Bill Pickett was a rodeo cowboy in the days when black men were not allowed to do much of anything that wasn't menial or demeaning. Pickett, however, followed his dream. As a young boy, he would watch cowboys herd cattle past his parents' farm and dream of becoming a cowboy. One day, Bill helped some cowboys bulldog a calf they were having trouble branding. They were suitably impressed with his skills, and there was no stopping him after that. By the age of 15, he had left home to work on ranches throughout Texas. His fame grew steadily, and eventually he was offered a job in a rodeo. After just a few years, he was famous throughout the country, even riding in Mexico, South America, and England. His fame not only helped popularize rodeo, but helped to give attention to a black man in a very racist time. This is a brilliantly done tribute to an unjustly forgotten pioneer. The text is fascinating, and the oil paintings on scratchboard are full of energy and motion, matching the book's powerful mood. A wonderful choice for any collection.‘Melissa Hudak, North Suburban District Library, Roscoe, IL

"[A] rip-snorting picture-book biography."--Kirkus Reviews [A] rip-snorting picture-book biography. Kirkus Reviews "

The husband-and-wife team behind Dear Benjamin Banneker and Alvin Ailey continue their superb profiles of noteworthy African Americans with this rip-roarin' salute to a legendary cowboy. Andrea Pinkney's informed, colorful text, peppered with cowboy slang (``Hot-diggity-dewlap!''), provides a lively foil for Brian Pinkney's distinctive scratchboard illustrations. His medium, with its old-fashioned woodcut flavor, works well for biography in general and this one in particular; the fluid lines and energetic cross-hatchings create a sense of motion that reinforce the depictions of the cowhand's active life. Readers will follow with interest the tale of the ``feistiest boy south of Abilene'' who grew up to become a famous rodeo performer, renowned for his ``bulldogging'' stunt (which he invented as a child, after watching a bulldog subdue a restless cow by biting its sensitive upper lip). The author gives Pickett's (ca.1860- 1932) life story ample context, too, bolstering it with information about the role of African Americans in settling the West; an afterword discusses black cowboys in general. As Pickett's fans might have said, "Hooeee!" Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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