Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Illustrator:  R. Gregory Christie 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 10
Lerner, 2009   ISBN: 978-0822567646

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Arkansas in 1838, and he grew up on a plantation in Texas where he took care of the animals, fetched water, and learned how to become a crack shot. Bass was such a favorite with his master, Colonel George Reeves, that his master took Bass with him into battle when the Civil War broke out. During an argument, Bass struck his master, and knowing that this was a death sentence for a slave, Bass ran away to live with Native Americans in Indian Territory.

When the Civil War was over and he was free, Bass settled down, got married, and he and his wife had children. Bass was happy living in Indian Territory but then the area “became a haven for the West’s most notorious outlaws.” Judge Isaac C. Parker was sent to the territory, and he hired two hundred deputy marshals to help bring law and order back to the land. Bass was one of these deputy marshals, and he took his job very seriously, bringing in the outlaws he was sent to catch without resorting to undue violence. He was incorruptible, determined, and “as honest as the day was long.”

In this fascinating picture book, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson beautifully tells the story of one of the West’s unsung heroes. Unlike many Wild West legends, this story is true. With gripping accounts of Bass Reeves’ exploits, the author keeps the reader engaged right to the last page.