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Let 'Er Buck!
Cover of Let 'Er Buck!
Let 'Er Buck!
George Fletcher, the People's Champion
"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...
"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...
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  • "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 kids—and adults—who love true stories, unlikely heroes, and cowboy tales.

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.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from December 21, 2018

    Gr 3-6-Growing up in Eastern Oregon at the turn of the 20th century, George Fletcher discovered a love for horses at an early age: by 16, "life in the saddle and riding rough were all he hankered for." He competed in rodeos and performed stunts in Wild West shows, aiming for prizes, but Nelson notes "When he was allowed to compete, the judges hardly ever treated him fair." Readers will be mesmerized by lyrical, conversational prose that describes the "rhythm of the ride, the rise and fall, the whirl and twirl, the spin and swerve" of Fletcher's rodeo moves. James captures the energy of the bucking horses and the tension and grace of the riders in vibrant oil-on-board paintings. A vivid close-up image depicts the horses' tossing heads, bared teeth, and wide eyes. The end notes include a more complete biographical sketch of Fletcher and information about the other two riders in the Saddle Bronc Championship of 1911, Jackson Sundown and John Spain. Nelson's discussion about her research process is particularly strong: she clearly identifies her sources, and when evidence is scant, she justifies her authorial decisions. VERDICT An excellent choice for most biography collections. The rollicking language and gorgeous art make this a terrific read-aloud and conversation starter for older elementary students.-Jennifer Costa, Cambridge Public Library, MA

    Copyright 1 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 1, 2018
    Honing skills first learned from Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse friends in eastern Oregon, African-American cowboy George Fletcher bucked his way into legend at the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up.Nelson introduces readers to George as a boy learning his craft on the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, where his family settled after moving from Kansas. Racism from the local whites cemented his friendship with the Native kids, and he absorbed their lessons in horsemanship. From the age of 16, he competed in rodeos that didn't exclude black competitors. Nelson plaits her narrative with Western lingo and homespun similes: "Ranching fit George like made-to-measure boots." The centerpiece of her narrative is the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up, where 21-year-old George competed against Nez Perce cowboy Jackson Sundown and white rancher John Spain. Here, Nelson puts as much effort into developing their broncs as characters as she does the humans, drawing from meticulous primary-source research to place readers in the moment. Although George mesmerized the audience with his skill, Spain was awarded first place--an act of unfairness recognized by the local sheriff, a decent white man, who spontaneously led a successful effort to anoint George "People's Champion." James' painterly oils swirl with energy, visible daubs creating the dusty, monumental landscape and equally monumental horses and humans. Six pages of backmatter include a glossary, bibliography, further information on Fletcher and other key players, and a fascinating discussion of the research challenges Nelson encountered.A champion indeed. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    Lerner Publishing Group
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Let 'Er Buck!
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George Fletcher, the People's Champion
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