March 10th, 2012 by Karen
When you think of a cowboy, what comes to mind?
Probably someone like John Wayne…
Or Clint Eastwood…
Or maybe even Yosemite Sam?
Most likely, you’re envisioning someone lanky and sandy-haired who hangs out in saloons in the Wild Wild West. Right?
Or maybe you read Nancy’s recent review for Gabriel’s Horses and you have a different picture in mind? You’d be on the right track in that case, because I recently learned about a different kind of cowboy — the kind who’s Black and lives in the middle of urban Philadelphia. This guy:
In Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri, I discovered the existence of these “ghetto cowboys” alongside Cole, who is forced to move in with one of them when his mother gets fed up with his delinquent ways. And the cowboy Cole meets for the first time ever — well, it’s his dad.
As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in this book: Cole is adjusting to life with his stranger of a dad, and having trouble accepting his mother’s absence. His dad and the rest of the Chester Avenue cowboys are being pressured by the city government to shut down the stables, even though caring for the horses gives the neighborhood kids hope and keeps them out of trouble. And on top of that, Cole doesn’t even know how to ride!
I read this book as a judge for the Cybils Awards (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards), and it was one of my favorite finalists. With each turn of the page, I was drawn even more into the action and wanted to know what would happen next. And I also really enjoyed learning about this community I’d never heard of before — even without the illustrations, all the vivid descriptions brought it to life in my imagination, but the pictures by Jesse Joshua Watson are also awesome. For example:
So check out Ghetto Cowboy and journey to the Wild West of Philadelphia!