Week ending May 4, 2012
McKissack, Patricia C. & Fredrick L. McKissack Jr. (text) & Randy DuBurke (illus.). Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love. Chronicle. 2012. c.136p. ISBN 9780811857499. $19.99. F/AUTOBIOG
Among the mostly unsung African American cowboys, Nat Love made his name as Deadwood Dick for skillful riding, cattle handling, and marksmanship while surviving capture by Indians and a run-in with lawman Bat Masterson. Born a slave in Tennessee, he was taught to read by his father and, after emancipation, went west for the life of the range and rodeo. As a cowboy, Love enjoyed 20 years of respect and adventure he would not have had otherwise in a newly reunited country that was to ache with slavery’s legacy for more than a century. Thirty years of subsequent retirement as a railroad porter gave him time to write his autobiography, which the McKissacks, who have coauthored more than 100 books on African American history, here fictionalize only lightly and mine for lively anecdotes. DuBurke’s people seem almost like black-and-white daguerreotypes set off within painted color backgrounds, which are more vivid in the action sequences. The effect gives a historical feel while lending visual interest.
Verdict An attractive and addictive read for teens and up, this will appeal to fans of adventure comics and Westerns. A short list of books and web links would have been useful, such as Love’s autobiography, available free online.‚ Martha Cornog, Philadelphia