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Let ‘Er Buck! George Fletcher, the People’s Champion

“Life at home was no bushel of peaches either.” 

“It was plain as the ears on a mule that he was born to ride.”

“He took flight and kissed the ground.”


Filled with sayings and phrases from the Old West, Let ‘Er Buck! tells the true story of George Fletcher, a black cowboy in Pendleton, Oregon at the turn of the century. Readers get to know George and how his generous and determined spirit carried him through his life – from growing up with children from the Umatilla Indian Reservation, to learning how to ranch and ride horses in competitions that were rarely fair to black cowboys. The book’s pinnacle is the true story of how George was overlooked in a rodeo competition in favor of white cowboy, but the crowd declared George the People’s Champion and raised money to award him a prize. Nelson includes a glossary of all the cowboy lingo and detailed endnotes describing the different people profiled in the book. Gordon C. James, who also illustrated Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut, captures the energy and movement of the rodeo in his oil paintings.

Teacher Thoughts

  • Let ‘Er Buck is a great addition to your text sets of narrative nonfiction.
  • This book is best suited as a classroom read aloud for second graders and older as the complex language makes it harder for young ones to follow. 
  • Middle-grade students will enjoy figuring out the lingo from the Old West and once they have it down pat, will love reading it aloud. 


Kid Thoughts


I like when he was a little boy and he was pretending to ride the barrel with one hand. That’d be so much fun!
– Third Grader

George and His Friends

I like when he started to know people from the reservation and make friends.
– Second Grader

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