A good idea by a fine author and illustrator goes somewhat awry in this middle-grade collective biography of 15 women of the Old West.
Winter gets in trouble right away with the introduction, in which he tries and fails to define the Wild West, with sentences like "There weren't too many women in the Wild West, so the few who were there had to be really wild to compete with all those raucous men." The women chosen are fascinating and often little known: the formerly enslaved Mary Fields, who drove a stagecoach for the U.S. Postal Service and was just its second woman employee; Lola Montez and Lotta Crabtree, wildly popular Gold Rush entertainers;ÃÂ and The-Other-Magpie, a Crow woman warrior. Though no doubt intended to be rollicking and engaging, the prose instead often seems patronizing or flip. Is it important that both Esther Morris, Wyoming suffragist and judge, and Carry Nation, anti-alcohol crusader, were both six feet tall and about 180 pounds?ÃÂ The biography of Santa Fe casino owner "La Tules" ends by saying that Mexico "continues to bring us Mexicans." Guevara notes that all but two of the sepia-and-black–accented watercolor portraits were taken directly from photographs of their subjects.
Young researchers eager to know more about outlaw Belle Starr and adventurer and philanthropist Nellie Cashman might start here, but they will have to move on to more reliable sources. (timeline, map) (Collective biography. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Winter and Guevara offer 16 portraits--his in lively, straight-shooting prose; hers in stoic watercolor-and-ink--of women who made their names in the lawless years of the Wild West. From familiar figures like Calamity Jane and outlaw Belle Starr ("She looked and acted like a queen--even though she was mainly just a horse thief") to less well-known women like reporter Polly Pry and Crow warrior The-Other-Magpie, the book's subjects are varied, fascinating, and, as Winter puts it, "some of the bravest people in the world." Girls looking for new historical heroes will find some great options in these pages. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
Gr 3-6--Women were scarce in the Wild West, and the few who were there had to be tough. This book introduces 16 figures who made their mark between the California Gold Rush and the end of the 19th century. Some of them, like Belle Starr, were on the wrong side of the law, while others, like Mary Ellen Pleasant, were successful in business. Others were performers, reporters, stagecoach drivers, preachers, or adventurers. Winter includes stories about Native Americans, ex-slaves, and women of Hispanic heritage. Each page-long biographical sketch is written in a delightful colloquial style that gives the text verve and sparkle. Each biography is accompanied by a full-page, watercolor and ink portrait of the subject. All are based on historical photos and show the women as strong and powerful. The back endpapers feature a helpful map of the region. Holly George-Warren's The Cowgirl Way (Houghton Harcourt, 2010) highlights some of the same women, but is not as entertaining. Teachers will be eager to add this title to their American history curriculum, and children will take to it, not because of its educational value, but because it is fun to read.--Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT[Page 151]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.