Let 'Er Buck George Fletcher The People's Champion

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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.--from the publisher

Keywords:  biography, informational picture book, African American, cowboy, horses, racism, Native Americans, legend, 6 year olds, 7 year olds, 8 year olds, 9 year olds, 10 year olds

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George Fletcher was an incredibly talented cowboy and rider, yet he was only given second place at the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up. The author traces George's early life as his family took the Oregon Trail to the Northwest, his friendship with the children on the Umatilla Reservation, his lifelong love of horses, and the story of that historic rodeo. The illustrations capture the spirit of the horses and riders. The sense of movement comes across clearly in images of George "riding a make-believe bronco" or riding back to back on the same bucking horse with cowboy Jesse Stahl. But  George's love of horses is also shown, especially in an image of young George blowing lightly into a horse's face.

Stories of individuals who persevere and follow their passion despite prejudice are always a welcome addition to classroom and library collections. It is also good to have a wider variety of individuals to read about during Black History Month than the few Civil Rights figures that most lessons focus on. Authors such as Vaunda, who research stories that have been left out of the history books, help to fill gaps in our understanding and collective knowledge.

Recommended by:  Suzanne Costner, Library Media Specialist, Tennessee USA

See more of her recommendations:  https://fveslibrary.blogspot.com/

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