cover image Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy

Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy

Andrea Davis Pinkney. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200100-1

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.)