BAD GUYS

TRUE STORIES OF LEGENDARY GUNSLINGERS

In a book subtitled “True Stories of Legendary Gunslingers, Sidewinders, Fourflushers, Drygulchers, Bushwhackers, Freebooters, and Downright Bad Guys and Gals of the Wild West,” Glass (The Sweetwater Run, 1996, etc.) endeavors to set the record straight concerning the doings of Jesse James, Black Bart, and other desperados who had their sorry reputations burnished by an Eastern press anxious for bold stories from the Wild West. He creates terrific biographical vignettes of eight bad-news characters: horse thieves Belle Starr and Billy the Kid; card-sharp, liquor-swilling, tall-talers Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane; legendary bandit Joaquin Murietta, and consumptive Doc Holliday (“deadly as a steely-eyed viper, dangerous as a wounded wolf, and by all accounts a pretty good dentist”). There is a good dose of history in these pages, lightly delivered, and in particular how these characters fit into the post—Civil War years (how, for example, Jesse James could be seen as a hero in the South). The zesty telling makes the eight figures as fascinating as their mythology; the illustrations are as rough-hewn as the stories are polished, with characters and caricatures melding into portraits of the colorful folk who remain part of the cultural fabric. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32310-7

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism.

FREE LUNCH

Recounting his childhood experiences in sixth grade, Ogle’s memoir chronicles the punishing consequences of poverty and violence on himself and his family.

The start of middle school brings about unwanted changes in young Rex’s life. His old friendships devolve as his school friends join the football team and slowly edge him out. His new English teacher discriminates against him due to his dark skin (Rex is biracial, with a white absentee dad and a Mexican mom) and secondhand clothes, both too large and too small. Seemingly worse, his mom enrolls him in the school’s free-lunch program, much to his embarrassment. “Now everyone knows I’m nothing but trailer trash.” His painful home life proffers little sanctuary thanks to his mom, who swings from occasional caregiver to violent tyrant at the slightest provocation, and his white stepdad, an abusive racist whose aggression outrivals that of Rex’s mom. Balancing the persistent flashes of brutality, Ogle magnificently includes sprouts of hope, whether it’s the beginnings of a friendship with a “weird” schoolmate, joyful moments with his younger brother, or lessons of perseverance from Abuela. These slivers of relative levity counteract the toxic relationship between young Rex, a boy prone to heated outbursts and suppressed feelings, and his mother, a fully three-dimensional character who’s viciously thrashing against the burden of poverty. It’s a fine balance carried by the author’s outstanding, gracious writing and a clear eye for the penetrating truth.

A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism. (author’s note, author Q&A, discussion guide, writing guide, resources) (Memoir. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-324-00360-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown and HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more