The thrilling true tale of an African American cowboy's unlikely victory, presented by an award-winning author and illustrator.

In 1911, three men were in the final round of the famed Pendleton Round-Up. One was white, one was Indian, and one was black. When the judges declared the white man the winner, the audience was outraged. They named black cowboy George Fletcher the "people's champion" and took a collection, ultimately giving Fletcher far more than the value of the prize that went to the official winner.

Award-winning author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson tells the story of Fletcher's unlikely triumph with a Western twang that will delight kids—and adults—who love true stories, unlikely heroes, and cowboy tales.


Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is the author of Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal (Carolrhoda Books, 2009) and Almost to Freedom (Carolrhoda Books 2003). She co-authored Juneteenth (Millbrook, 2006) with her husband, Drew Nelson. Nelson won the Coretta Scott King Author Award for Bad News for Outlaws, and Almost to Freedom received a Coretta Scott King Honor for Colin Bootman's illustrations. Most recently, she authored No Crystal Stair:A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller (Carolrhoda Lab, 2012). She has been a teacher, a newspaper reporter, a bookseller, a school librarian, and twice a member of the Newbery Award Committee. She was elected to the Caldecott Committee for 2011. Nelson holds master's degrees from The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College (Vermont) and from the University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Science, where she specialized in children's services. The author is a youth services librarian at the public library in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where she lives with her husband.


An excellent choice for most biography collections. The rollicking language and gorgeous art make this a terrific read-aloud and conversation starter for older elementary students.

School Library Journal

What makes Nelson’s story leap off the pages are the vibrant color illustrations of Gordon C. James, especially his thrilling full-page images depicting wild bucking broncs.

Albuquerque Journal

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