Friday, December 31, 2021

Guy Friday- A Man Called Horse

Turner, Glennette Tilley. Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad 
Harry N. Abrams (September 21, 2021)
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Born in Florida in 1812, John Horse's father was most likely a Seminole tribesman, and his mother an enslaved Black woman. This was a difficult time in history, especially in this part of the world, when troubles arose between Seminoles, free Blacks, the Spanish, and Florida planters. In 1835, the Second Seminole War began. Young John had language skills that let him travel between the several different communities, affording him opportunities but also occasionally getting him into trouble. Black Seminoles faced unique challenges, but by 1844, Horse was part of a delegation to Washington that tried to get better rights for Black Seminoles. He continued in his role as a statesman, fighting on several fronts for rights, and was instrumental in helping his people work towards freedom. 

 This is a well formatted and researched biography about a previously unheralded person. Just the right length for pleasure reading, but with enough information for research, it is well illustrated with drawings and photographs that add a layer of understanding to the text. The additional maps, timelines, and notes help provide a framework for understanding Horse and his times.

It is difficult to find biographies that accurately portray Native Americans; until twenty years ago, almost all of the books were written by non-Native people and were not accurate in the portrayals of the actions of the US government. This smaller format book (5.5 x 8 inches) is extremely attractive, with colorful page decorations, good sized text, and more illustrations than I would have thought would be available. The notes at the end about the Horse's legacy will be helpful to students doing research for National History Day, as will the bibliography at the end. I'm hoping that we will see a lot more biographies about a variety of unsung historical figures, and this is a great format for titles covering them.

Tate, Don. Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes
August 17th 2021 by Harry N. Abrams
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

In this picture book biography, we learn of Ernie Barnes, who was born in 1938 and raised in North Carolina. He was fond of drawing and painting, and preferred these inside pursuits to the rough and tumble of sports. When he got a bit older, he tired of being picked on for being somewhat overweight, and tried out for the football team. A teacher suggested that he start body building, which helped him to become a better football player. Although he continued with his artistic pursuits, he was offered a number of college scholarships for football, so traveled down that road for quite some time. After playing in college, he was recruited for the Colts, but cut at the end of the training period. He ended up playing five seasons in the NFL with the New York Titans, San Diego Chargers, and Denver Broncos. When he retired because of an injury, he approached a team about becoming their full time artist, and began to find acclaim from his work. His paintings appeared on the television show Good Times, and he made several guest appearances on the show as well. He passed away in 2009 after a long career in art.

Tate has a good note in the back that his own art work is not meant to represent the style of Barnes, and the bright colors and clean lines tell Barnes' story with a lot of interest. There is a lot of texture in the illustrations, and the treatment of fabric is especially nice. 

This is well researched, and there are footnotes at the end, as well as a timeline and brief bibliography. Tate, who is also Black, discusses in an end note how inspirational he found Barnes' work once he discovered him. 

Barnes' unique mix of football an art has been covered in Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace and Bryan Collier, but this is a different enough book to warrant attention. Hand this to fans of Tavares's Growing Up Pedro, Reid and Freeman's Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis' Fleet of Foot Girl and Kelly's Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball.

1 comment:

  1. I have one more review to write today to finish up my 2021 reviews. Thanks for posting my book survey to Twitter. Happy New Year.