Ghetto Cowboy
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Ghetto Cowboy

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,088 ratings  ·  272 reviews
A street-smart tale about a displaced teen who learns to defend what's right-the Cowboy Way.

Twelve-year-old Cole's behavior causes his mother to drive him from Detroit to Philadelphia to live with a father he has never known, but who soon has Cole involved with a group of African-American "cowboys" who rescue horses and use them to steer youths away from drugs and gangs.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Candlewick Press
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Newbery 2012
91st out of 167 books — 669 voters
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Diversity in Young Adult and Middle Grade
258th out of 709 books — 294 voters


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Community Reviews

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Betsy
Fun Fact: Parents these days speak in code. As a New York children’s librarian I had to learn this the hard way. Let’s say they want a folktale about a girl outwitting a witch. I pull out something like McKissack's Precious and the Boo Hag and proudly hand it to them. When I do, the parent scrunches up their nose and I think to myself, “Uh-oh.” Then they say it. “Yeah, um . . . we were looking for something a little less . . . urban.” Never mind that the book takes places in the country. In this...more
Michele
Awesome book!

This excellent book was a fairly quick read with a interesting plot, great characters, and a rousing message. The book begins with African American 7th grader Cole getting suspended from school for the rest of the school year for vandalism after skipping school for four weeks. His mama decides to take action by driving him from Detroit to Philadelphia to live with the father he has never known. There he discovers an unusual world of a stable full of cowboys right in the middle of i...more
Betsy
You know you want to read a book with this title: Ghetto Cowboy. I mean, c'mon--doesn't that pique your interest just a teeny tiny bit??

This was a very cool book on a number of levels. First, I had no idea that there WERE such things as ghetto cowboys (and, yes, there are!). Cool.

Second, the single-parent-drops-kid-off-with-long-lost-other-parent plot line has gotten old. Until now. Somehow, the setting of an urban stable with ghetto cowboys makes it cool. Really.

Third, the parents are better pa...more
Aaron
***SPOILER ALERT***

the last thing Cole expected to see was a horse, and that is what he saw. this urban realistic-fiction book is about a bad kid (Cole) moved to philly with his dad that he never met before, but at the end he learns, The Cowboy Way.i thought the book had many mistakes but some parts were good, overall, not good 2 stars. Some parts i will show you about so you see my statement. too mush slang, like, "they is electricians",and "I is going get me some food", and that is not how ki...more
Jim
Who exactly is the audience for this book? The voice of the narrator would suggest that it is for middle school aged kids, particularly black kids. However, there is not a kid that age I know that would enjoy the story in the least. Not only is it a kids book about horses in an urban setting, which is boring enough, but there is nothing real to connect with or like about the narrator. I can certainly see why it was chosen as a nominee for the Rebecca Caudill Award as it is exactly the kind of ga...more
Kellee
I loved this book so much. I know that I love a book when I am listening to the audio book and I don't want to get out of my car. Also, I normally do not bring my audio books inside, but with this one I had to because I didn't want to stop. I was fascinated by the modern history it shared with me about Philadelphia as well as the history about cowboys and horses. I was enthralled by Coltrane and his coming of age story. I loved most of the minor characters and I rooted for everyone throughout. T...more
Annie
Ghetto Cowboy is G. Neri's most recent take at delving into a news story and pulling out an incredibly compelling (and hilarious) story from it.

The book starts out with Cole's mother finding out that he's been cutting school for a month and driving him from Detroit to Philly to leave him on his father's doorstep--a man who Cole has never met. Within his first five minutes in Philly his mother runs into a horse with her car, and he sees his father, who greets him with a scowl wearing a cowboy hat...more
Robert Kent
But here, Esteemed Reader, is G. Neri and his new classic, Ghetto Cowboy. It's a gripping read for readers of any age, and if you're a writer working on your voice, Ghetto Cowboy is a book you definitely want to read as G. Neri is all about nailing the voice of his protagonist Witness how he writes Cole (short for Coltrane, naturally) as a genuine character who says the things Cole would say the way he would say them (but without all the swearing I imagine he might include if this were YA instea...more
Julia
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, with a fascinating setting and refreshingly 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. ‘Cow...more
Jessica
Appeal Characteristics: urban cowboys, father-son relationship, black male relationships, urban life, gangs, truancy, mother-son relationship, coming of age story


This book reminded me sorta of an urbanized Hoot. It is actually based on a real place that specifically caters to urban males to help them put down a gun and pick up a horse. Neri places a special note about how he found the article and where you can find more information on the actual place. This book has definitely piqued my intere...more
Dalilah
I'm sure you met or knew/know someone that is a troublemaker in school. Well in this book Cole is one, but only worse. My opinion in this and Realistic Fiction book is that there is lots of cool action and you will probably enjoy it right from the beginning of the story. I think this book might go good for someone who wants action in their story and get a little sad in it too. To me this was a really cool book, I loved all the action and all the characters.

A 7th grader named Cole that makes his...more
Colette
I can't image giving up on my child, though there were times I truly wanted to! Cole and his father are strong characters, Neri does a fantastic job of sucking you in, keeping you reading, and wondering what would happen next to this 12 year old protagonist due to his immature decision making. Written in first person narrative, Cole speaks in getto-speak throughout the whole book, and no one corrected his grammar, not even once. Sounds a great deal like some of our students, but you can be assur...more
Anthony
***Spoiler alert***

Have you ever been so bad that your mom took you to your dad's house? Well this book's genre is realistic fiction. this book is the best book I've read this year.

this story takes place in the "Philles" a.k.as Philadelphia & Detroit.Cole wanted to stay with his mom, but his mom doesn't want him there, so she took Cole to his father's house, then he would visit his father in the summer & his mom during the school year.the conflict is person vs self vs person, because he...more
Donna Gephart
Ghetto Cowboy illuminates a tradition many people may not have learned about.

I lived in Philadelphia more than 30 years and had never heard about the cowboys and stables in North Philadelphia, giving kids a chance to care for horses rather than join gangs.

Neri's story, while based in fact, focuses on a fictional character, Cole, and his struggle to find his place in the world. It's well-told, uses realistic, gritty dialogue and grips readers with a story that needs to be read.

This book belongs i...more
Jennifer
Interesting glimpse into the world of urban black cowboys holding on and fighting to keep the cowboy way of life.

12 year old Cole's delinquent attitude causes his mother to drive him from Detroit to Philadelphia, where his father lives. After dropping him off, Cole realizes she's never coming back and that he has to either run away or learn more about being a cowboy.

Inner-city horsemen have a great history and are a fascinating subject for a book. I only wish that this book had been designed as...more
Ismael Lopez
Do you think you could follow the cowboy way? The book Ghetto Cowboy is a realistic fiction that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This book was very good because it was suspenseful, had a great plot, and kept you wondering till the very end.

The story took place in Philadelphia in a small violent neighborhood. This book is about a troublemaker named Cole who is dumped by his mother into the hands of Harper, his father, who he never met. While Cole is living with his dad, he has a hard time cha...more
Caelyn Pietila
Ghetto Cowboy written by G. Neri Cole is about a teenage boy name Cole who is from the city and then is forced to live with his dad in the country. Cole caused lots of trouble in Detroit, and feels insecure and different at first when he moves to the country. He is the only colored boy, and it gives him a new perspective in life. There is a point in the story when Cole tries to escape the country, but he realizes he likes it there after all when he realizes his love for horses. Cole and his new...more
Brian Henderson
Have you ever known or read about someone who was bad but wanted to do good in life? If not, then let me tell you about this character. The genre of this book is realistic fiction. I thought that this was a great book overall. It had some things that I would change but it was pretty decent.
The setting of this book is in Philadelphia. this book is about this kid who wanted to stay with his mom but she couldn't take his misbehavior anymore, so she took him to where his (supposed to be) dad is at...more
Abby Johnson
Not exactly my thing (never got into horse stories, although the urban cowboy thing is pretty cool and a nice differentiation from your typical horse story), but this is a great choice for tweens. I'd hand it to kids looking for a different spin on a horse story or kids looking for age-appropriate street lit. Excellent narration by JD Jackson makes this an appealing listen and the music that starts and ends each disc sets the tone nicely.
Wendy
Neri has picked a truly unique (but absolutely authentic) setting for his story - the stables and corrals of inner-city Philadelphia. Coltrane, the main character, is sent to live with a father he has never met after his mother has hit her limit. The father is more talented with horses than he is with his own son, but their journey toward each other is lovingly (but not too easily) depicted.
Courtney
I read this book with my fifth graders! It was amazing. Relatable, entertaining, thought provoking, and emotional. My students begged me to read more everyday. And after we finished, several of them checked it out from the library. This has lots of great opportunities for students to respond with connections and it's also great for inferencing.
Brenda Kahn
I really liked this one even though it resolved a little quickly and a bit neatly. The author created a strong sense of place and community here. It could've been longer. It had an edgy feel, but stayed appropriate for a middle grade audience.
D'Arcy Rowe
This was a great story. Cole really grew from being a punk to being a responsible young man. The story of horses in Philadelphia is interesting. What a way of life and a wonderful way to keep kids out of gangs.
T'aurelia I
What happens when your mom drops you off with your dad whom you've never met? Well for Cole a lot can happen, however it all starts with a horse. It ends with a change of mind. See what happens when the city tries to take over, Cole finds his heart, and he stands up for something he believes in.

I liked the plot because the story would've been different if Cole and his mom would have came to live with his dad. It also would've been different if she hadn't left him. There's enough details to know...more
Edward Sullivan
A wonderful, uplifting story about a young man who makes connections and finds direction in his life when he goes to live with his father in Philadelphia and learns the ways of the inner city cowboy.
Sean Kottke
There are thousands of female-centered redemption stories involving horses in rural settings, but none of them are quite like this uniquely tender novel of a troubled Detroit teenager learning to respect life and himself while reconnecting with his father in Philadelphia's urban equestrian culture. Temple Grandin famously wrote that animals make us human, and by caring for retired race horses in a bright corner of a dark city, young, rootless Cole discovers a calling in the rich legacy of the Bl...more
Todd
IF YOU LIKED THIS TRY...

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Let me start by saying this was a quick read for me, a slow reader by nature, and anytime I am as absorbed in a book as I was these past two days that's saying something good. Let's get this part out of the way: I enjoyed this book.

Then why do I feel like chucking it into the ever-growing pile of middle-grade fiction (I wouldn't call this YA) that is quite clearly intended to introduce me to a particular condition, culture or experience that I-- either because of or...more
Maggie Burgess
This book was PERFECT for one of my reluctant readers! This student has a hard time picking a book to read, and an even harder time finishing any book he starts. He chose this one to read in our one on one reading time together, but I soon found I was constantly playing catch up because he insisted on taking it home and he would get ahead of me. This book lends itself to predicting, cause/effect questions, making inferences, and really caring about the world/community around you. My student had...more
Jackie
Inspired by a true story, Ghetto Cowboy is the story of Cole who is dropped off at his father's Philadelphia house when his mother feels she cannot control his delinquent behavior any longer. On the streets of Detroit, Cole was learning some bad lessons and she felt that they would only get worse. Trouble is, Cole has never even met his father and he doesn't want to live with him so far away from his mother and everything he has ever known.

Harper, Cole's dad, has a no-nonsense attitude, and tel...more
Richie Partington
30 July 2011 GHETTO COWBOY by G. Neri, Candlewick, August 2011, 218p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-4922-7

"The stables is nothing more than a few garages and some vacant lots with old buildings that look like they made outta scrap. I peek inside one. It's dark and smells all dank like horse. There's banged-up plywood and hay on the floor, and the ceiling is covered in cobwebs so thick, it looks like nobody ever cleaned up there before. The stalls is small, with no windows, and the wood is old and warped, li...more
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G. NERI is the Coretta Scott King honor winning author of YUMMY: THE LAST DAYS OF A SOUTHSIDE SHORTY. He is also the recipient of the International Reading Association's Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his debut book CHESS RUMBLE. His latest novel GHETTO COWBOY won an ALA Odyssey Honor and the Horace Mann Upstanders Award. His work has been honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and t...more
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“When gangs took over the [abandoned public land in Philadelphia] and the neighborhood took a turn for the worse, horses became a way of saving lives. By getting boys interested in raising a horse rather than killing another human being, these cowboys gave the youth something positive: father figures, focus, and the ability to stand tall.” 4 likes
“Don't steal nobody's cattle or their women. Treat your horse like your best friend, because sometimes that's all you got. Most important, trust and believe in your guys and always have their back when they need you.” 1 likes
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