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Black Cowboy, Wild Horses by Julius Lester

Black Cowboy, Wild Horses

by Julius Lester

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Black Cowboys Wild Horses: A True Story by Julius Lester and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney is the true story of Bob Lemmons a black cowboy. According to the biography in the back of the book Black Cowboys Wild Horses is one of three books written by Lester on the role of men of color in the West. I am very excited to read this book to my students as we continual our Social Studies thematic unit on the United States. In preparation, I read Black Cowboys Wild Horses to my sons, who, although are seventeen and nineteen, found the story of Lemmons interesting and informational. They especially appreciated the additional information in the back of the book, which inspired them to find out more about cowboys of color. While reading the book, I found the illustrations captivating and strong and the author’s word choice and story writing was outstanding. I plan to check out the other books written by Lester, and read all three to my class and then compare and contrast them after whole group discussion. ( )
  penny.johnsonward | Feb 18, 2013 |
At first I didn't like the illustrations, but after looking at them more, I noticed there were a lot of really interesting details (cicadas that almost blended into the grass, horse shapes in the clouds) and cool textures in the paintings (wavy watercolor tree bark that was almost reminiscent of art deco-ish wallpaper, texture of the dappled horses)

However, the writing is cliched and sentimental:
"Maybe someday they would ride with the mustangs, ride to that forever place where the land and sky kissed."

I did like that it focused on a black cowboy. It's a common misconception in historical fiction that black people or other people of color weren't around, especially in westerns (where if people of color are portrayed, they are often portrayed in stereotypical or racist ways, esp. in older cowboy books with "Indians" in them)

One thing I noticed was that the cowboy got the wild mustangs to trust him and then rounded them up and sold them at the market. This is really what cowboys did but it seems kind of messed up to me. A lot of children's books do talk about freedom of animals and "caged birds" etc., and this book didn't get into that at all really. Maybe because it doesn't, it would be good to put in with a collection about capturing animals where the animals were unhappy about being captured, and then students would be able to identify this different portrayal of it and realize what is going on in this book with that frame of mind.
  robinlbrooks | Sep 19, 2012 |
This is the true story of the black cowboy Bob Lemmons who could tame any wild horse. This book goes through one of the times he rounded up wild horses.
  setonhansen | Apr 1, 2010 |
Bob Lemmon, a black cowboy and former slave, and his horse Warrior set off to bring in a herd of mustangs. No one has ever brought in mustangs by themselves, but Bob is one with the horses. He watched for tracks on the ground and found some, he was able to tell what left them and when. Bob and Warrior caught up with the mustangs right before a storm, and the mustangs ran from the thunder. They caught up again at a river, Bob and Warrior slowly closed in on the mustangs, and the stallion sniffed at them, and accepted Bob. They lived as a herd for a few days, until a colt was bit by a rattle snake and died; Bob took this chance to take over the herd by having a confrontation with the stallion. Bob and Warrior won and the herd followed them to the corral.

I believe that this is an excellent book to teach the roles that African Americans played in the old West. I enjoyed this book and I think that children will as well, because there is some action in this historical story. This would make a good read aloud as well as a book for children to read on their own.

1.) Children will look at several different animal tracks and decide what animal made the track. Class will discuss tracks in nature and whether they could spot an animal track in nature.
2.) Have each child tell what they appreciate most about nature and draw a picture of it as Bob appreciated every part of nature.
  aubreycroat | Oct 24, 2009 |
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A black cowboy is so in tune with wild mustangs that they accept him into the herd, thus enabling him singlehandedly to take them to the corral.

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