Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri, illustrated Jesse Joshua Watson 218 pages 3/5/13 pub 2011
What a delightful book for preteen and teen boys who are nonreaders, or chose not to read, for whom books like Hatchet, might as well take place on the moon. Or for anyone, old or young, urban, suburban or rural, reader or not there yet, who likes a good story and good characters. “’The Cowboy Way is, no matter what, never ever give up fighting when the chips are down. Real cowboys never give up,’ Harp says…
‘Ain’t nothing changed,’ says Jamaica Bob. ‘Cowboys still fighting to protect their ways in land wars where the bosses are tryin’ to run ‘em out. Only difference now is, the Chisolm Trail is a freeway today. We got to stick to our ways so that the young people have a safe place in this world, a place where the old values still count.’” (119-121) After Cole skips a month of school and gets suspended, his desperate mom drops him off with his dad, who he’s never met in Philadelphia. Coltrane’s (he doesn’t know he’s named after John Coltrane, or who Coltrane is) dad and his friends have a community stable in North Philly, run out of reclaimed apartment buildings with cast off race horses. He bonds with his dad, Harper, a horse he names Boo, and the cowboys of North Philly, who are real, though this story is fiction.