Reviews for Bad News for Outlaws : The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal


Booklist Reviews 2009 October #1
"Nelson and Christie know the proper way to open a western--with a showdown. Young readers first see outlaw Jim Webb bursting through a glass window; then lawman Bass Reeves' eye sighting down the barrel of his Winchester rifle. After that, kids will have no trouble loping into this picture-book biography. Born a slave, Reeves became one of the most feared and respected Deputy U.S. Marshals to tame the West. Nelson's anecdotal account gives this criminally overlooked frontier hero the same justice that Gary Paulsen did in his book for slightly older readers, The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006). The text, especially, gets into the tall-tale spirit of things ("Bass had a big job. And it suited him right down to the ground. Everything about him was big."), while the dramatic scenes captured in Christie's stately artwork promise revisitations to the lawman's story. An exciting subject captured with narrative panache and visual swagger, Bass Reeves stands to finally gain his share of adulation from kids drawn to the rough-and-tumble Old West." Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #6
Bass Reeves's life is the stuff from which legends are made. Born a slave, he escaped to Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma), captured over three thousand men and women as a deputy U.S. marshal, and spent his few years of retirement on a small-town police force. Reeves, as a fellow sharpshooter once said, "could shoot the left hind leg off a contented fly sitting on a mule's ear at a hundred yards and never ruffle a hair," and was a man of such honor that he arrested his own son for murder. This captivating biography, told in language as colorful as Reeves's career, grabs readers with an 1884 gunfight, then flashes back to Reeves's early life and continues until his death. Section headings ("Slave Days, 1840s-1860s"; "Freedom and Family, Late 1860s-1874") underscore the chronology, while boldfaced subheadings provide a textbook lesson on how topic sentences work. Typically, the subheadings offer an opinion ("Bass was respected, and he was hated") followed by a paragraph or two of supporting information. Accentuated with a palette knife, Christie's sharply textured paintings create an impressionist background of an unformed land as well as detailed portraits of this multi-dimensional individual, his bold black hat conveying unmistakable authority. Includes documentation, a glossary, a timeline, recommended readings and bibliography, and historical author notes. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 October #2
He rode tall in the saddle and excelled at riding, shooting, tracking and every other skill required of a man representing the law in the vast and often lawless American frontier known as Indian Territory in the late 1800s. Born into slavery in Texas, he fled from his owner during the Civil War and lived with Indians, honing his skills until he was chosen for what turned out to be a very long and very successful career as a deputy U.S. Marshal. Nelson's well-researched biography reads much like a tall tale or frontier legend--as well it should: "Outlaws learned that when Marshal Reeves had your warrant, you were as good as got…." Christie's bold full-page paintings echo the heroic spirit. The text is frequently laid out in the style of old-time wanted posters on yellowing paper. Gary Paulsen's The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006) previously presented his life as a novel. Here, children can saddle up with a genuine Western hero in a narrative that hits the bull's-eye. (glossary, timeline, bibliography, notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 January/February
This is a well-written and beautifully-illustrated picture book biography of Bass Reeves, U.S. Marshal of the Wild West. His childhood background as a slave is discussed. The majority of the book is devoted to his conquests of law-breakers in the Indian Territory, as he brought criminals to justice throughout the West. His ability to communicate with Native Americans, cowboys, and pioneers is described, along with his triumph in overcoming prejudice directed toward him as an African American. Richly illustrated with watercolors, and appended with a glossary, timeline, and a bibliography/webliography, this is a very worthwhile purchase for biography collections. Pair this title up with Gary Paulsen?s Legend of Bass Reeves (Random House, 2006). Recommended. Douglas K. Dillon, Ph.D., Library/Media Specialist, Lakota Plains Junior School, Cincinnati, Ohio ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 November #1

With lively language and anecdotes, Nelson (Juneteenth) chronicles the life of African-American lawman Bass Reeves in a biography that elevates him to folk hero. The story opens with an action-packed sequence leading to Reeves killing criminal Jim Webb. The second spread has readers staring down the barrel of Reeves's rifle, in an attention-grabbing, somewhat unsettling closeup. As Webb lay dying, he "gave Bass his revolver out of respect. Bass buried Webb's body and turned in the outlaw's boots and gun belt as proof he'd gotten his man." Christie's (Yesterday I Had the Blues) dynamic full-page oil paintings portray a somber, statuesque Reeves, his big eyes shining from under the brim of his deputy's hat. The folksy language is heavy with simile ("Bass took to guns like a bear to honey") and jargon (vittles, slack-jawed cowpoke), inviting a drawly reading. It's an arresting portrait of a man who rose from escaped slave in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to become a federal marshal who made thousands of arrests, including his own son, but killed only 14 men. A glossary, bibliography, time line and other source material are included. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

[Page 52]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 November

Gr 3-8--Reeves is an unsung hero of the American West whose honesty and sense of duty are an inspiration to all. In a frontier brimming with treachery and lawlessness, this African-American peace officer stood out as a fearless figure of unparalleled integrity, arresting more than 3,000 outlaws during his 32 years of service as a deputy U.S. marshal, all without suffering an injury. He was a former slave who became a successful farmer and family man before accepting the appointment to serve as a lawman in the Indian Territory in 1875. While Gary Paulsen's The Legend of Bass Reeves (Random, 2006) mixes fact and fiction to great effect, Nelson chooses to keep her telling as close to documented research as possible. Selected anecdotes ranging from a humorous encounter with a skunk to an intense gunfight with an outlaw provide a sense of the man's courage and character. The text is chock-full of colorful turns of phrase that will engage readers who don't "cotton to" nonfiction (a glossary of "Western Words" is included). Christie's memorable paintings convey Reeves's determination and caring, while rugged brushstrokes form the frontier terrain. Youngsters will find much to admire here.--Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO

[Page 134]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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