Booklist Reviews

Ages 5^-9. One of every three cowboys who helped tame the Wild West was either Mexican or black. This is the true story of one of the latter, Bob Lemmons. In language rich with simile and metaphor, Lester's account focuses on the former slave's uncanny tracking abilities as he trails a herd of mustangs as well as his mission to tame the wild horses and lead them back to the corral. Pinkney's earth-colored gouache and watercolor paintings add the look of the Texas plains to Lester's account and capture the energy of the horses as they gallop across sweeping, double-page spreads. Lester and Pinkney's manifest love and respect for the West and cowboys of color, whose contributions have been too long overlooked, distinguish their latest collaboration. ((Reviewed May 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Guide Reviews

In vivid, poetic prose, Lester tells the tale of cowboy Bob Lemmons, a story he first told in [cf2]Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History[cf1]. A former slave with no formal education, Lemmons possessed the unusual ability to bring in a herd of wild mustangs alone. Pinkney's magnificent earth-toned paintings bring to life the wild beauty of the horses and the western plains.Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

In vivid, poetic prose, Lester tells the tale of a uniquely talented man, cowboy Bob Lemmons. Lester first told the story as "The Man Who Was a Horse" in his collection Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History (rev. 4/73). While that version includes more historical background and detailed information on Lemmons's life, this picture-book narrative appropriately conveys Lemmons's character through a particular (fictionalized) incident, telling a well-shaped tale with a dramatic climax. A former slave with no formal education, Lemmons possessed the unusual ability to bring in a herd of wild mustangs alone. Lester recounts how Lemmons and his stallion Warrior patiently follow a wild herd at a distance until they are accepted by both smell and sight: "Bob could make the horses think he was one of them-because he was." After days of running and sleeping with the horses on the open plains, Bob and Warrior challenge the mustang stallion and drive him away, becoming the herd's new leader. Pinkney's magnificent earth-toned paintings bring to life the wild beauty of the horses and the western plains, the dark drama of a nighttime thunderstorm, the fierce battle of the stallions. Notes from the two creators give a history of the book and reveal their shared fascination with black cowboys. This latest collaboration evokes the legendary stature of one of these real men, as well as the majesty and romance of the Wild West. l.a. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

The creators of Sam and the Tigers (1996) proffer this fact-based tale of a black cowboy named Bob Lemmons, famed for his ability to track and capture herds of wild mustangs. Within these pages he follows a herd until he's an accepted member, then, with his horse, Warrior, successfully challenges the herd's stallion for leadership. Lester reworks a passage from his Long Journey Home (1972, 1993), and if he sometimes gets carried away with imagery (``He . . . stared at the land stretching wide as love in every direction. The sky was curved as if it were a lap on which the earth lay napping like a curled cat. High above, a hawk was suspended on cold threads of unseen winds''), it makes for colorful, exuberant storytelling. The text is ably matched by Pinkney's big, dappled watercolor scenes of open prairie and muscular, galloping horses. Lemmons may not have the name recognition of Nat Love or Bill Pickett, but his exploits were no less spectacular. (Picture book. 8-10) Copyright 1998 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews

A spirit of freedom pervades the pages of this picture book, accompanied by the sound of thundering hooves and the feel of the heat and dust of the plains. Based on an incident in the life of Texas cowboy Bob Lemmons, the tale centers on his success in corralling a herd of wild mustangs with only the aid of his horse. Possessed of a legendary tracking ability, Lemmons, a former slave, follows the drove day and night, infiltrating the herd astride his black steed, Warrior. In a dramatic climax, he defeats the mustang stallion for possession of the herd. Lester and Pinkney, who previously collaborated on John Henry and Sam and the Tigers, reunite in an impressive display of teamwork, transporting readers, through the alchemy of visual and verbal imagery, to the heart of the action. The resulting sense of immediacy offers a vivid taste of the cowboy life, whether it's hunkering down all night during a sluicing rain or riding under the wide-open skies. Lester studs his seamless prose with powerful descriptions, such as when a hawk is "suspended on cold threads of unseen winds," or the mustangs sweep toward the corral as "a dark surge of flesh flashing across the plains like black lightning." The fluid brushwork of Pinkney's watercolors seem tailor-made for the flow of muscle, mane and tail of wild mustangs galloping across the prairie. Notable for the light it sheds on a fascinating slice of Americana, this book is essential for anyone interested in the Wild West. Ages 5-up. (May)

Publishers Weekly Reviews

A spirit of freedom pervades the pages of this picture book, accompanied by the sound of thundering hooves and the feel of the heat and dust of the plains. Based on an incident in the life of Texas cowboy Bob Lemmons, the tale centers on his success in corralling a herd of wild mustangs with only the aid of his horse. Possessed of a legendary tracking ability, Lemmons, a former slave, follows the drove day and night, infiltrating the herd astride his black steed, Warrior. In a dramatic climax, he defeats the mustang stallion for possession of the herd. Lester and Pinkney, who previously collaborated on John Henry and Sam and the Tigers, reunite in an impressive display of teamwork, transporting readers, through the alchemy of visual and verbal imagery, to the heart of the action. The resulting sense of immediacy offers a vivid taste of the cowboy life, whether it's hunkering down all night during a sluicing rain or riding under the wide-open skies. Lester studs his seamless prose with powerful descriptions, such as when a hawk is "suspended on cold threads of unseen winds," or the mustangs sweep toward the corral as "a dark surge of flesh flashing across the plains like black lightning." The fluid brushwork of Pinkney's watercolors seem tailor-made for the flow of muscle, mane and tail of wild mustangs galloping across the prairie. Notable for the light it sheds on a fascinating slice of Americana, this book is essential for anyone interested in the Wild West. Ages 5-up. (May) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

School Library Journal Reviews

Pinkney and Lester add a picture-book chapter to the lore of this nation's "true West" with the retelling of a story of a wild horse hunt by the black cowboy Bob Lemmons. He and his stallion, Warrior, wander on the prairie until they find the tracks of the animals they seek. Bob then spends days in a very slow approach to the herd. Horse and rider finally join the herd and are accepted by the wild horses, until at last Bob challenges the lead stallion for control. On Warrior's back, he fights the stallion, defeats him, and then leads the animals into captivity in the ranch corral. Throughout, both text and pictures emphasize the blending of all life. The linkages between the cowboy, the animals, and the natural world are so strong that lines separating them are blurred. Lester and Pinkney's stated aims were to recast their childhood love of cowboys and the Old West with more recent historical research into the contributions of men of color, both black and Hispanic. They have done that, and achieved something else as well: youngsters will reflect on the relationships between humans and other animals. Pinkney's pictures were never better, making it all the more unfortunate that text boxes cover some of the action. Lester's overuse of metaphor is also a drawback. Still, this book will inspire heavy-duty thinking on the part of young readers. Ruth Semrau, formerly at Lovejoy School, Allen, TX Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews