Monday, February 8, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Bad News for Outlaws

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2009. [September 2009]. Lerner. 40 pages.

Jim Webb's luck was running muddy when Bass Reeves rode into town.

Wow, wow, wow! After reading this one, it was really no surprise to me that it had won the Coretta Scott King Award (in the author category.) Because it was one amazing book. Have you ever heard of Bass Reeves? I know I hadn't before picking up Vaunda Micheaux Nelson's Bad News For Outlaws. But I found this picture book biography to be more than just informative, more than just interesting. I found it to be compelling in an almost magical way. The writing. It was just about perfect. Nelson sure has a way with words!

Being a peace officer in Indian Territory was rough and dangerous. The area swarmed with horse thieves, train robbers, cattle rustlers, and gunslingers. Bandits, swindlers, and murderers thrived. Travelers sometimes disappeared, never to be heard from again. A lawman's career could be short--and end bloody.
So Bass Reeves had a big job. And it suited him right down to the ground. Everything about him was big.

Many lawmen of the time weren't much better than the hard cases they arrested. But Bass was as right as rain from the boot heels up. He couldn't be bribed. And he shot only as a last resort, even when Judge Parker said, "Bring them in alive--or dead!" Some outlaws, like Jim Webb, forced gunplay. Whenever Bass could, he found another way.
Bass took many a bad man by surprise through the use of disguises.
This one is illustrated by one of my favorites. R. Gregory Christie. I just love his work. And Bad News for Outlaws is no exception. I think he did a wonderful job in illustrating this one. His work complements the text well. And it really does a good job in bringing Bass Reeves to life.

I really can't praise this one enough because I just loved it so much. Definitely recommended.

An interview with the author.
An interview with the illustrator.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers


  1. This one deserves a place in my library collection-thanks for the great review.

  2. You wrote a wonderful review. I am interested in this book and am going to add to my list to look for.