Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons

Toon Graphics. Sept. 2020. 60p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781943145515.
Gr 4-6–Saddle up! To highlight the significant African American presence in the story of the so-called “Wild West,” Smith presents in graphic format dramatic exploits of three larger-than-life Western figures who were born into slavery, then switches to prose with mostly period illustrations and photographs for a wagon full of back matter on real cowboys, relations with Native Americans, cattle drives, the myth of the Old West, and related topics. The informational beef is nutritious, but the first part really brings the sizzle, as readers are treated to views of “gun-toting, pants-wearing, punch-throwing” Mary Fields, aka “Stagecoach Mary,” fighting off a pack of wolves; deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves cleverly collaring the murderous Clancy brothers without firing a shot; and “mustanger” Bob Lemmons corralling a herd of wild horses by convincing them that he’s their lead stallion. The author sprinkles in colorful biographical details, adds nods to contemporaries such as Nat Love and Bill Pickett, then closes with generous dollops of relevant print and web resources.
VERDICT Little dogies in middle grades won’t need to be coaxed to snatch up this fresh and timely alternative to Lillian Schlissel’s Black Frontiers: A History of African-American Heroes in the Old West.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing