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Ghetto Cowboy

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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  2,006 Ratings  ·  317 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, 218 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Candlewick Press
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Betsy
Sep 13, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
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
Michele
Aug 05, 2013 Michele rated it really liked it
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
Raina
Jul 21, 2016 Raina rated it it was amazing
I took WAY too long to read this. Almost actually too long.

I got it originally at a library conference in 2012 (signed by the author, no less), and because I had a copy with no due date, didn't read it until summer 2016. I liked it even more than I expected to, and ended up booktalking it to my local middle schools in January 2017.

We meet Cole in the midst of a traumatic event in his life, and watch him encounter the nature of animals in an unnatural habitat. The story eventually gets to NIMBY i
...more
Aaron
Sep 18, 2013 Aaron rated it it was ok
***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
Emily
I can't believe I didn't read this book until now.

4th grade book talk
Picture a cowboy for a second. You’re probably thinking of someone in the Wild West, in the desert, with a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, a lasso, a horse and saddle, and some cows. Right? What color skin do these cowboys in your head have? White, but tanned from being out in the sun, right?
Cole, the main character of this book, thinks the same way you do. All the cowboys you or he has seen on TV or in movies are white – but he
...more
Jim
Jul 21, 2013 Jim rated it did not like it
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
Robert Kent
Feb 13, 2013 Robert Kent rated it it was amazing
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
Dalilah
Nov 11, 2013 Dalilah rated it liked it
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
Ms. Schutte
Jan 17, 2012 Ms. Schutte rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jessica
Nov 03, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
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
Randy Daugherty
Coltrane "Cole" to his friends is from Detroit, motor city and has his mother to her wits end, not knowing what to do she takes him to Philadelphia, to drop him off with a father he has never seen.
Harp barely take scare of himself , horses and the kids in the neighborhood, how can he take care of one more little alone his own?
Harp runs a stable in the Fletcher area, the one safe zone , protected from the influence of the gangs where Harp tried to give the boys something to believe in, a set of v
...more
Colette
Jun 24, 2013 Colette rated it really liked it
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
Francesca Forrest
Apr 21, 2016 Francesca Forrest rated it it was amazing
This was really wonderful. I wish I'd read it all in one go instead of with a big gap in the middle, but the story was so tightly woven that I could fall right back into it.

It really has everything--a great protagonist, interesting, believable supporting characters, a plot with both personal and larger-than-personal stakes, a wonderful narrative voice, and a really good ending. I was a little worried how things were going to work out between Cole and his mother, but Neri handled it really well.
...more
Donna Gephart
Dec 21, 2011 Donna Gephart rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 21, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
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
Abby Johnson
Feb 24, 2012 Abby Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
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
Apr 28, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2013 Courtney rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 31, 2011 Brenda Kahn rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2013 D'Arcy Rowe rated it really liked it
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.
Edward Sullivan
Jul 16, 2011 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
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.
Joan
Dec 16, 2016 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-ya
A good book for middle school boys. Interesting story about a boy who goes from living with his mother in Detroit, where he is skipping school and getting into trouble to living with his father and a horse in a rundown neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Theleem
Mar 12, 2017 Theleem rated it it was amazing
I thought that this was a fantastic example of a book that told a unique story that was both honest and accessible to younger teenagers. The story of urban cowboys is one that I'd never heard of before, but Neri really brought the community to life here, while also highlighting the struggles of life in impoverished urban areas in general. Some readers might need some time to adjust to the narrator's dialect, but this story is well with the effort.
Richie Partington
Nov 05, 2011 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
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
Ismael Lopez
May 15, 2014 Ismael Lopez rated it it was amazing
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
Juan Ibarra
Oct 17, 2013 Juan Ibarra rated it really liked it
Do you know anyone who is kind of a troublemaker? Do they skip school, or not turn in homework? If you know someone like this, then you know Cole. This is a Realistic Fiction story, set in modern day Philadelphia. I really liked this novel, it had lots of twists and turns, and very believable set of main characters.

This story is set in modern day Philadelphia, in a small, but violent neighborhood. Cole's mother wanted to send her son Cole to live with his father because he was skipping/ditching
...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.” 6 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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