A Wonderful Tale of Interspecies Friendship
Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri is based on an actual incident involving urban black equestrians in North Philadelphia. This is a tale that’s hardly been told. The story is brought alive with beautiful illustrations supporting it. Ghetto Cowboy is a delightful tale of bravery, friendship and justice.
A 12-year boy named Coltrane lives with his mother in Detroit. But soon, his mother has had enough of him and sends him to Philadelphia to his father, whom he has never met. The reason- Coltrane’s habit of constantly getting into trouble at school. Naturally, this sudden change in his life made Coltrane feel extremely unhappy. But soon, Col starts to see this as a blessing in disguise.
Harper, his father, runs an urban stable and is part of a group of black urban cowboys in the city. Harper teaches kids to take care of the horses and lets them enjoy rides on their backs. But there is also something extraordinary that he does. Harper, along with the group of cowboys, saves horses from being slaughtered by greedy citizens. But soon, more trouble is going to come their way and only Cole can help them come out of the situation with his plan.
Language is not the strongest point of this novel. It seems like Neri wanted to keep the writing real and authentic, like the people it is inspired by. And hence he uses local words and phrases that make the story more relatable for the right readers. Here’s one example- “cause what difference do it make in the end? I’ll never do nothing great in my life.” So don’t expect correct grammar, sentence formation, etc. in this book. The thing to focus here is the story and its message and not the language. It might be difficult for kids to read, but with the help of adults, they should manage it fine.
Then there are the brilliant illustrations by artist Jesse Joshua Watson. They give life to the passages and chapters, summing up the feelings with one beautiful picture accompanying them.
We give Ghetto Cowboy 3.5/5 stars. It is a heart-warming tale of a young lad, his friendship with the horses of his father’s stable and his passion for getting justice for them. It’s a good night time read for both kids and adults.