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Bad News for Outlaws
Cover of Bad News for Outlaws
Bad News for Outlaws
The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
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Coretta Scott King Author Award
Read about the fascinating life of Bass Reeves, who escaped slavery to become the first African American Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi.

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed black hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life. Outlaws feared him. Law-abiding citizens respected him. As a peace officer, he was cunning and fearless. When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn't like the notion of a black lawman. Born into slavery in 1838, Bass had a hard and violent life, but he also had a strong sense of right and wrong that others admired. When Judge Isaac Parker tried to bring law and order to the lawless Indian Territories, he chose Bass to be a Deputy US Marshal. Bass would quickly prove a smart choice. For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories. He made more than 3,000 arrests, and though he was a crack shot and a quick draw, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty. The story of Bass Reeves is the story of a remarkable African American and a remarkable hero of the Old West.

Coretta Scott King Author Award
Read about the fascinating life of Bass Reeves, who escaped slavery to become the first African American Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi.

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed black hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life. Outlaws feared him. Law-abiding citizens respected him. As a peace officer, he was cunning and fearless. When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn't like the notion of a black lawman. Born into slavery in 1838, Bass had a hard and violent life, but he also had a strong sense of right and wrong that others admired. When Judge Isaac Parker tried to bring law and order to the lawless Indian Territories, he chose Bass to be a Deputy US Marshal. Bass would quickly prove a smart choice. For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories. He made more than 3,000 arrests, and though he was a crack shot and a quick draw, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty. The story of Bass Reeves is the story of a remarkable African American and a remarkable hero of the Old West.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • PDF eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    always available
  • Library copies:
    always available
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.2
  • Lexile:
    860
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is the author of The Book Itch, as well as three Coretta Scott King Award-winning books: No Crystal Stair, Bad News for Outlaws, and Almost to Freedom. She is a former youth services librarian in New Mexico. Visit her online vaundanelson.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 2, 2009
    With lively language and anecdotes, Nelson (Juneteenth
    ) chronicles the life of African-American lawman Bass Reeves in a biography that elevates him to folk hero. The story opens with an action-packed sequence leading to Reeves killing criminal Jim Webb. The second spread has readers staring down the barrel of Reeves's rifle, in an attention-grabbing, somewhat unsettling closeup. As Webb lay dying, he “gave Bass his revolver out of respect. Bass buried Webb's body and turned in the outlaw's boots and gun belt as proof he'd gotten his man.” Christie's (Yesterday I Had the Blues
    ) dynamic full-page oil paintings portray a somber, statuesque Reeves, his big eyes shining from under the brim of his deputy's hat. The folksy language is heavy with simile (“Bass took to guns like a bear to honey”) and jargon (vittles, slack-jawed cowpoke), inviting a drawly reading. It's an arresting portrait of a man who rose from escaped slave in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to become a federal marshal who made thousands of arrests, including his own son, but killed only 14 men. A glossary, bibliography, time line and other source material are included. Ages 8–12.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2009
    Gr 3-8-Reeves is an unsung hero of the American West whose honesty and sense of duty are an inspiration to all. In a frontier brimming with treachery and lawlessness, this African-American peace officer stood out as a fearless figure of unparalleled integrity, arresting more than 3,000 outlaws during his 32 years of service as a deputy U.S. marshal, all without suffering an injury. He was a former slave who became a successful farmer and family man before accepting the appointment to serve as a lawman in the Indian Territory in 1875. While Gary Paulsen's "The Legend of Bass Reeves" (Random, 2006) mixes fact and fiction to great effect, Nelson chooses to keep her telling as close to documented research as possible. Selected anecdotes ranging from a humorous encounter with a skunk to an intense gunfight with an outlaw provide a sense of the man's courage and character. The text is chock-full of colorful turns of phrase that will engage readers who don't "cotton to" nonfiction (a glossary of "Western Words" is included). Christie's memorable paintings convey Reeves's determination and caring, while rugged brushstrokes form the frontier terrain. Youngsters will find much to admire here."Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO"

    Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    October 1, 2009
    Grades 3-5 Nelson and Christie know the proper way to open a westernwith a showdown. Young readers first see outlaw Jim Webb bursting through a glass window; then lawman Bass Reeves eye sighting down the barrel of his Winchester rifle. After that, kids will have no trouble loping into this picture-book biography. Born a slave, Reeves became one of the most feared and respected Deputy U.S. Marshals to tame the West. Nelsons anecdotal account gives this criminally overlooked frontier hero the same justice that Gary Paulsen did in his book for slightly older readers, The Legend of Bass Reeves (2006). The text, especially, gets into the tall-tale spirit of things (Bass had a big job. And it suited him right down to the ground. Everything about him was big.), while the dramatic scenes captured in Christies stately artwork promise revisitations to the lawmans story. An exciting subject captured with narrative panache and visual swagger, Bass Reeves stands to finally gain his share of adulation from kids drawn to the rough-and-tumble Old West.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

  • DOGO Books kjlock - The author's comments in the note in the back of the book says it all. "Bass's story is so incredible it comes close to sounding like a tall tale. But it isn't. It's true." This was my experience reading this book An amazing story of a deputy US Marshal that was bigger than life. If you like stories of the violent Old West, you will want to read this book.
  • The Horn Book Magazine "Bass Reeves's life is the stuff from which legends are made. Born a slave, he escaped to Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma), captured over three thousand men and women as a deputy U.S. marshal, and spent his few years of retirement on a small-town police force. Reeves, as a fellow sharpshooter once said, 'could shoot the left hind leg off a contented fly sitting on a mule's ear at a hundred yards and never ruffle a hair,' and was a man of such honor that he arrested his own son for murder. This captivating biography, told in language as colorful as Reeves's career, grabs readers with an 1884 gunfight, then flashes back to Reeves's early life and continues until his death. Section headings ('Slave Days, 1840s–1860s'; 'Freedom and Family, Late 1860s–1874') underscore the chronology, while boldfaced subheadings provide a textbook lesson on how topic sentences work. Typically, the subheadings offer an opinion ('Bass was respected, and he was hated') followed by a paragraph or two of supporting information. Accentuated with a palette knife, Christie's sharply textured paintings create an impressionist background of an unformed land as well as detailed portraits of this multi-dimensional individual, his bold black hat conveying unmistakable authority. Includes documentation, a glossary, a timeline, recommended readings and bibliography, and historical author notes. b.c." —The Horn Book Magazine
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    Lerner Publishing Group
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Bad News for Outlaws
Bad News for Outlaws
The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
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