From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Prometheus Jones, born to a Tennessee slave on the same day Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, has always had good luck, and, at age 13, he wins a horse in a raffle. Before she died, "Mama always told I was the luckiest child on earth. Might ride that horse clear to Texas and never look back." Indeed, Prometheus uses his newly acquired transportation to flee the racist rednecks who accuse him of stealing the raffle ticket. Because of his exceptional skill with horses, he and his sidekick cousin are invited to join a cattle drive to South Dakota. Along the way, they get a taste of the Wild West during the time of Manifest Destiny, Indian wars, and gold rush prospectors. Inspired by the autobiography of African-American cowboy Nat Love, this notable Western shows a side of cowboy life rarely depicted: the diversity found among one of the few groups at the time that valued a man's talents over the color of his skin. Hemphill's convincing vernacular narration and well-researched, hard-bitten details of life in the South and on the western range give this adventure story surprising depth. The fast-paced plot, punctuated by Prometheus's astonishing wins and losses, will lasso readers' interest.—Madeline Walton-Hadlock, San Jose Public Library, CA
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Though himself a free man, Prometheus Jones’ father was a slave who was sold away from his family. Now 13, Prometheus is determined to find the man he thinks of as “Mr. Jones” and—in April 1876—signs aboard a cattle drive that he hopes will ultimately take him to Texas and the reunion he longs for. In the meantime, however, the drive is headed north, through Indian country, bound for Deadwood in the Dakota Territory. Inspired in part by the real-life adventures of Nat Love, arguably the most famous of the nineteenth century’s African American cowboys, Hemphill’s novel offers a carefully researched look at the often uneasy circumstances of a black teenager on the American frontier. Prometheus is an always sympathetic and engaging character, and the dangers and misadventures he encounters en route to Deadwood make for compelling reading. True, what he finds there may strain some readers’ credulity—and feels a bit rushed in the bargain—but most will welcome the stirring, action-packed conclusion to Prometheus’ quest. Grades 7-12. --Michael Cart