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Black Heroes of the Wild West

Black Heroes of the Wild West

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By James Otis Smith. Published by Toon Books. 

Softcover, 60 pages, Colour, 2020.

Exploring American history and finding diversity at its roots!  This graphic novel by JAMES OTIS SMITH celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black heroes who took control of their destinies and stood up for their communities in the Old West. Born into slavery in Tennessee, Mary Fields became famous as “Stagecoach Mary,” a cigar-chomping, cardplaying coach driver who never missed a delivery. Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the wiliest lawmen in the territories, bringing thousands of outlaws to justice with his smarts. Bob Lemmons lived to be 99 years old and was so good with horses that the wild mustangs on the plains of Texas took him for one of their own.

From the introduction by KADIR NELSON, winner of the 2020 Caldecott Award: “Black Heroes of the Wild West is a brilliant and entertaining offering. Through sharp and evocative storytelling in the exciting medium of comics, lesser-known African American historical figures will be introduced to new generations of readers.” ​​​​

James Otis Smith is the illustrator of Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem’s Legendary Theatre, and a multi-talented artist whose work spans illustration, comics, motion graphics, and video. This is his first book as both author and illustrator. Smith lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Favorite Books of 2020
​— NPR Book Concierge
A New York Public Library logo that states Black Heroes of the Wild West was one of their Top 10 Books for Kids
Top 10 Books for Kids
​— New York Public Library
"These biographical comics are entertaining overviews that disrupt Wild West mythology."
— The New York Times
Read the Review>>
A photo hi lighting that Black Heroes of the Wild West received a Booklist Starred Review
"Highly recommended for all collections"
A logo highlighting that Black Heroes of the Wild West was added to the Little maverick Graphic Novel Reading List
Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List & 2022 Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List
​— Texas Library Association
"[Smith] manages to capture the humanity of each subject, while giving the entire book the 'hero' vibe promised in the title."
--Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Julie Danielson
Read the Smash Pages Q&A with James Otis Smith!
Stagecoach Mary brandishes a lit torch in one hand and a large knife in the other as she strikes an intimidating pose
2021 ALA Best Graphic Novels for Children Reading List

2021 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

A 2020 VLA Graphic Novel Diversity Award Honor Book

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

“The racial and cultural diversity of the Old West gets the comic-book treatment in Smith’s exploration of the lives and adventures of three Black historical figures…It’s about time."
— Kirkus Reviews

"Really brings the sizzle”
​— School Library Journal

“Witty punch lines and comic strip-style illustrations…with an emphasis on biographical details and the landscape.”
— Publishers Weekly

"The inclusion of photographs as endpapers and chapter openings reinforces that these are real people behind these almost unbelievable tales. They provide valuable evidence that grounds the extraordinary events, as well as showing how many more stories were out there."
— Good Comics for Kids, School Library Journal

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