Reviews for Bill Pickett : Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy


Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
Another picture-book biography by this team once again focuses on an extraordinary black American who has not been widely written about for children. Pinkney provides the historical background of pioneering farmers and ranchers of the late nineteenth century but focuses on one boy's dream of becoming a real American cowboy. Brian Pinkney's hand-colored scratchboards capture the young boy's enthusiasm and the excitement of the rodeo. Bib. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1996 #6
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. The author and illustrator team up for another picture book biography, once again choosing an extraordinary black American who has not been widely written about for children. The introductory verse ("Folks been telling' the tale / since way back when. / They been talkin' bout that Pickett boy. / Growed up to be a rodeo-ridin' man"), next to a 1908 photo of Pickett, sets the tone for the folksy turns of phrase woven throughout the narrative. The story begins with Pickett's father, who was born into slavery on a wagon train journey from South Carolina to Texas. Freed after the Civil War, he and his wife raise crops on a small plot of land, but their second of thirteen children, Bill, is drawn immediately to the cowboys driving cattle. Young Bill goes to work as a cowhand all over Texas until he is discovered by the rodeo for his unique bulldogging style - holding down a cow by biting its lower lip - which brings him fame on the circuit. Pinkney points out that while "many rodeo owners believed black cowboys should ride with their own kind.the newspapers didn't seem to care if Bill was black or white - Bill's bulldogging was news!" Pinkney provides the historical background of pioneering farmers and ranchers of the late nineteenth century but focuses on one boy's dream of becoming a real American cowboy. The afterword tells more about the rodeo and about the settling of Texas during Reconstruction that included many newly freed blacks. Acknowledgments on the copyright page indicate extensive research. The swirling strokes of Brian Pinkney's hand-colored scratchboards capture the young boy's enthusiasm and the excitement of the rodeo. l.a. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1996 August
~ From the creators of Dear Benjamin Banneker (1994), rip-snorting picture-book biography of the first African-American cowboy inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Pickett, ``quick as a jackrabbit, more wide-eyed than a hooty owl,'' left home at 15, having already invented his famous bulldogging technique--controlling balky cattle by gripping their lips with his teeth and twisting. As a ``wild-riding South Texas brushpopper,'' he quickly earned a reputation working both ranches and the rodeo circuit, putting on shows from Mexico City to London, and making steer-wrestling the standard rodeo event it is today. Based on both published sources and interviews with one of Pickett's descendants (and with an afterword called ``More About Black Cowboys''), this covers the essentials of his career while casting Pickett in the mold of a folk hero. Although readers may be disappointed to see only one scene of Pickett performing his spectacularly gross trick (sinking his teeth into the lips of a steer), the swirling lines and brushstrokes of the scratchboard illustrations ably second the text's energy and vivid imagery. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1996 August #4
The husband-and-wife team behind Dear Benjamin Banneker and Alvin Ailey continue their superb profiles of noteworthy African Americans with this rip-roarin' salute to a legendary cowboy. Andrea Pinkney's informed, colorful text, peppered with cowboy slang (``Hot-diggity-dewlap!''), provides a lively foil for Brian Pinkney's distinctive scratchboard illustrations. His medium, with its old-fashioned woodcut flavor, works well for biography in general and this one in particular; the fluid lines and energetic cross-hatchings create a sense of motion that reinforce the depictions of the cowhand's active life. Readers will follow with interest the tale of the ``feistiest boy south of Abilene'' who grew up to become a famous rodeo performer, renowned for his ``bulldogging'' stunt (which he invented as a child, after watching a bulldog subdue a restless cow by biting its sensitive upper lip). The author gives Pickett's (ca.1860- 1932) life story ample context, too, bolstering it with information about the role of African Americans in settling the West; an afterword discusses black cowboys in general. As Pickett's fans might have said, "Hooeee!" Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 November #2
In a starred review, PW called this biography of the first African-American inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame a "rip-roarin' salute to a legendary cowboy." Ages 4-8. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1996 October
K-Gr 3 Bill Pickett was a rodeo cowboy in the days when black men were not allowed to do much of anything that wasn't menial or demeaning. Pickett, however, followed his dream. As a young boy, he would watch cowboys herd cattle past his parents' farm and dream of becoming a cowboy. One day, Bill helped some cowboys bulldog a calf they were having trouble branding. They were suitably impressed with his skills, and there was no stopping him after that. By the age of 15, he had left home to work on ranches throughout Texas. His fame grew steadily, and eventually he was offered a job in a rodeo. After just a few years, he was famous throughout the country, even riding in Mexico, South America, and England. His fame not only helped popularize rodeo, but helped to give attention to a black man in a very racist time. This is a brilliantly done tribute to an unjustly forgotten pioneer. The text is fascinating, and the oil paintings on scratchboard are full of energy and motion, matching the book's powerful mood. A wonderful choice for any collection. Melissa Hudak, North Suburban District Library, Roscoe, IL Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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