Cover image for Best shot in the West : the adventures of Nat Love
Best shot in the West : the adventures of Nat Love
McKissack, Pat, 1944-2017.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, [2012]

Physical Description:
129 pages : chiefly color illustrations, color map ; 22 cm
General Note:
Based on: The life and adventures of Nat Love, better known in the cattle country as "Deadwood Dick."
Reading Level:
GN 650 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.8 1.0 149043.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.7 5 Quiz: 56735.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F594.L89 M34 2012 Juvenile Graphic Novel Childrens Area

On Order



From acclaimed authors Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack Jr. comes a thrilling biography of an unforgettable man told in compelling graphic novel form. Born into slavery in 1854, Nat Love, also known as Deadwood Dick, grew up to become the most famous African-American cowboy in the Old West. A contemporary and acquaintance of Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid, Nat was widely known as an expert roper and driver, a crack shot, and a real Wild West character. Featuring lively full-color artwork by Randy DuBurke,Best Shot in the West is an exhilarating mix of high-interest historical fiction and nonstop adventure.

Author Notes

Patricia C. McKissack was born in Smyrna, Tennessee on August 9, 1944. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1964 and a master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming from Webster University in 1975. After college, she worked as a junior high school English teacher and a children's book editor at Concordia Publishing.

Since the 1980's, she and her husband Frederick L. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Their other works included Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, a Newbery Honor, nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. In 1998, they received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She also writes fiction on her own. Her book included Flossie and the Fox, Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt, A Friendship for Today, and Let's Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin and Turn It Out! She won the Newberry Honor Book Award and the King Author Award for The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural in 1993 and the Caldecott Medal for Mirandy and Brother Wind. She dead of cardio-respiratory arrest on April 7, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Somewhat more sensationalistic than the book itself, the title gives short shrift to the many other skills and attributes that saw historical figure Nat Love through a rugged life in the Old West. A freed slave, cattle driver, master horseman, and, indeed, crack shot, Love adventured through many harrowing experiences and into contact with many other notables of the era, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Bat Masterson, and Billy the Kid. The writing makes little use of hyperbole, allowing the natural drama of horse-roping contests, a kidnapping by a Native American tribe, and driving cattle through a fierce lightning storm to hold readers' attention. The McKissacks also highlight the inherent fortitude and quick-wittedness of the man nicknamed Deadwood Dick, as well as the high value he placed on friendship. The unique art fills highly realistic figures (some even seem to be taken from old photos) and backgrounds with sprays of grainy color that make the story seem like it's coated in a patina of genuine history.--Karp, Jesse Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although you wouldn't know it from typical cowboy stories and movies, about a quarter of actual cowhands were African-American, and this is the story of the most famous of them, the champion horse breaker and rifle shot known as Deadwood Dick. Nat Love was born into slavery in Tennessee, but left after emancipation to go to Dodge City, Kans., and find fortune as a cowboy. A nonstop run of cattle drives, shooting contests, and adventures in Indian Territory-interspersed with meetings with Bat Masterson and the like-follows until Love retires to become a Pullman porter. Based on his 1907 autobiography, much of this lively tale probably stretches the truth in the penny dreadful style of the day, but the McKissacks and DuBurke bring this world alive with judicious quotations-on buying his first suit of new clothes, Love says, "I looked like a man. I felt like a man"-and, in particular, dramatic full-color art. DuBurke channels elements of classic art of the Old West-the horses, guns, and Indians all feel authentic-while keeping strong characterization at the forefront. While a bit more history might have been welcome, the result is a fine introduction to a little-known piece of Americana. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Among the mostly unsung African American cowboys, Nat Love made his name as Deadwood Dick for skillful riding, cattle handling, and marksmanship while surviving capture by Indians and a run-in with lawman Bat Masterson. Born a slave in Tennessee, he was taught to read by his father and, after emancipation, went west for the life of the range and rodeo. As a cowboy, Love enjoyed 20 years of respect and adventure he would not have had otherwise in a newly reunited country that was to ache with slavery's legacy for more than a century. Thirty years of subsequent "retirement" as a railroad porter gave him time to write his autobiography, which the McKissacks, who have coauthored more than 100 books on African American history, here fictionalize only lightly and mine for lively anecdotes. DuBurke's people seem almost like black-and-white daguerreotypes set off within painted color backgrounds, which are more vivid in the action sequences. The effect gives a historical feel while lending visual interest. Verdict An attractive and addictive read for teens and up, this will appeal to fans of adventure comics and Westerns. A short list of books and web links would have been useful, such as Love's autobiography, available free online.-Martha Cornog, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3 Up-Born into slavery in Tennessee, Love left home to seek work and eventually became an expert roper and marksman in the Old West, an acquaintance of legends such as Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid. This fictionalized biography is based on his memoir, published in 1907. Exciting episodes include bucking broncos, runaway horses, and Apache raids, as well as Love's capture by hostile Native Americans, the drunken theft of a cannon from a U.S. Army fort, and the cowboy competition that gives the authors the right to call Love "The Best Shot in the West." DuBurke's muscular art features flying bullets, billowing dust, and driving rain. Panels tend to be large, the better to depict the wide open spaces of the Great Plains and the cattle, horses, and buffalo that Love lived and worked among. Exciting and picturesque, Nat Love's life makes for a great graphic novel.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.