Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. Let ‘Er Buck! George Fletcher, the People’s Champion. Gordon C. James, Illus. Non-fic. Carolrhoda, 02/2019. pp. PLB $18.99. 978-1-5124-9808-0. OUTSTANDING GRADES. Gr. 2-5.
A brief but important incident from an Oregon rodeo in 1911 is recounted in this non-fiction book on the sport, focusing on African American cowboy George Fletcher. At the Pendleton Round-up of 1911, Fletcher competed against Nez Perce tribe member Jackson Sundown and European American John Spain in the Saddle Bronc championship. When Spain was declared the winner, the audience was so outraged that they took up a collection for Fletcher that exceeded the original prize money given to Spain. Even though this focuses on one incident, it gives a great deal of information on rodeos and the importance of African American cowboys, often using folksy language from cowboy culture. The narrative is perfect for a classroom read-aloud, and the book has several pages of back matter with more details on the principal participants, a glossary and bibliography, and information on Nelson’s research. The dramatic action-packed full-color oil paintings are impressionistic, often with a soft focus on backgrounds but clearly depicting faces that are in the foreground.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University, iSchool