Let ‘er Buck! by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Picture Book Grades 2-5
Invite your students to pretend their chair is a horse by straddling it backwards and holding onto its back. Encourage them to walk their “horse” into the “coral” facing you on your “horse.” Open this book and let the adventures begin!
Your “buckaroos” will hear rodeo and western words when you read them this true story of bronc buster, George Fletcher. Their bodies will respond to the hurling, twisting, bucking, and jackknifing mustangs frantically trying to throw their riders; especially when they gaze at the fierce colorful illustrations.
Well researched, George Fletcher’s story is captivating; how a black boy, born in 1890, grew up in mostly white Pendleton, Oregon. There he endured racist slurs with little love or support from his family. His favorite game was “riding” a barrel tied between two trees while his Indian playmates made it buck. The story action continues leading up to the Saddle Bronc Championship at the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up. What happened when George competed for the prestigious, expensive Hamley silver-trimmed saddle is amazing and heartwarming.
The last page of the story will leave your “riders” wanting more. So trot into the last pages of the book where vocabulary is defined and fascinating information about George and his competitors abound.
Engage your “riders” by having them “ride” like George with one hand in the air – or be disqualified! What would they need to really ride? Discuss equipment; chaps, boots, spurs, saddle, etc.
Debate the book’s ending – was it fair? How did George feel?
Now the big question. What do you do when you see someone treated unfairly? Think about Sheriff Tillman Taylor’s role in the story.
Who’s been to a rodeo? Invite a cowboy or cowgirl, Native American or African American if possible, to talk to the students about the broncos, training, various events, scoring, and prize money.
After reading the last page of this book, your “buckaroos” may want to cheer on bronco busters at a rodeo – “Let ‘er Buck!”
Find more information about the book from the author here.