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Grand Theft Horse

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  251 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Gail Ruffu was a rookie trainer known for her unconventional methods and ability to handle dangerous horses. When she became part owner of an untamed thoroughbred named Urgent Envoy, everything changed. After Urgent Envoy showed real promise, her co-owners forced Gail to speed up training and race him too early, causing the horse to develop a hairline fracture. Refusing to ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Tu Books
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Community Reviews

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4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  251 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After finishing this biographical GN about a courageous and tenacious woman trying to save a race horse, I just want to know: How can I help?
Skye Kilaen
Absorbing graphic novel about an ethical horse trainer who tangles with unscrupulous forces within her industry, leading her to essentially kidnap her own horse. If you like stories about the underdog fighting for what's right, give this a try. It would be amazing adapted as an indie film.
Rod Brown
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a pleasant surprise!

Somehow, based on the cover's similarity to the disappointing One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale , I had subconsciously decided I was not going to like this book after I had picked it up from the library. I forced myself to start reading it this week because I had run out of renewals and the due date is looming. As I rarely look at the back cover copy for graphic novels, I had no idea what the hell I'd be reading when I turned to the introduction.

Turns out this is based on a true story about Gail Ruffu
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I liked that this was inspired by a true story and that the protagonist was a true good guy, but the world of horse racing portrayed was really depressing. Did not care for the art.
Stephanie Bange
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A catchy title like this will garner this graphic novel some attention...but only if it delivers on its promise of an exciting story -- which it does, splendidly!

Divided into seven parts with each labeled as if a horse race is being run, Coretta Scott King Honor winner G. Neri tells the story of his cousin's turbulent life protecting Urgent Envoy, a race horse whose destiny was to be a long-term racing champion. The story opens with Gail meeting Urgent Envoy and finding a partner to pay for the
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh man. I am continually reminded that comics and graphic novels can be more, and already *are* more, than I can possibly imagine. This nonfiction biographical piece ranks up there with Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon's Pride of Baghdad and Max Brooks and Caanan White's The Harlem Hellfighters as an exemplar of the form. Corbin Wilkin's art is monochrome but delightful, the real-world character of Gail well-drawn and well-rounded, and the plot moves. Auxiliary material highlights the rea ...more
Sunday Cummins
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
How do we book-talk this and get it in the hands of middle school students (7-9th grade)? I'll never look at horse racing the same way again. I'd visit other reviewers' synopsis of the storyline and gravity of the content in this book.

Here's a few thoughts for what you might include in a book-talk or introduction to this book.
Ask questions to pique students' curiosity:
What are you willing to die for?
What are you willing to go to jail for?
What are you willing to do to save a person or an animal
Dakota Morgan
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's rare that a book catches me completely off guard. Grand Theft Horse is one such book.

The short introduction makes it clear that this real-life story caught Greg Neri by surprise as well. When a distant relative mentions to him that she's wanted in California for horse thievery, he thinks, "that sounds like a great story." And boy is he right.

Grand Theft Horse follows horse trainer Gail Ruffu as she finds the perfect racing horse, gets swindled by her partners, steals the horse, and fights t
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, nonfiction
Wildly absorbing.
The Bookish Austin
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was such an interesting graphic novel. About a month ago I went to see author Andrew Smith speak and an audience member asked him for some of his current book recommendations - Grand Theft Horse was one of these. :) And I'll be 100% honest, I straight up trusted Andrew's recommendation and didn't bother to read anything about the book so goodness was I surprised when I found out it was a non-fiction graphic novel with art in a monochromatic brown.
I knew absolutely nothing about this woman
Richie Partington
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: GRAND THEFT HORSE by G. Neri and Corban Wilkin, ill, Lee & Low, September 2018, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-62014-855-6

“And the next thing you know your son is playing for money in a pinched-back suit.
And list’nin to some big out of town jasper, hearin’ him tell about horse-race gambin’.
Not a wholesome trottin’ race, no! But a race where they set down right on the horse!
Like to see some stuck-up jockey boy settin’ on Dan Patch? Make your blood boil?
Well, I should say.”
-- Meredith Wils
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting non fiction book written in comics form about a trainer who decides to save a horse from racing when its apparent its not fully healed from injuries. She lost everything saving that horse and would do it all over again. I don't think I'll be watching the big races anymore. It's a dirty world.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Riveting account of an underdog (brash, brave woman who gives all) against the establishment (dirtbag lawyer, shady gross animal abusers with big money) who stops at nothing to save and keep her animal. Highly recommended.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have made a goal to read at least two graphic novels a month, and this was my first one for January. It was delightful! I got so engrossed in the story I stayed up late reading. Had to find out what happened. I spent some time thinking about if I would have liked the story better as a traditional book--but I think not. The illustrations definitely made a difference. Very fun, I'm looking forward to more.
Shauna Yusko
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Strong 3 1/2. Pair with American Phaoroh (Mickle) and Riding Invisible (Alonzo)
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great non fiction graphic novel.
Feel confident booktalking it to middle
School grades.
“Would you risk prison to save the life of 1 horse?”
Story of one woman who grew up loving horses, became a horse trainer in CA racing circuit. Saw potential in one $5K horse but when shared ownership goes wrong and the other owners want to force an injured horse to run...when running might cause death....what would you do?
True story of one woman willing to stand up for what she believes in.
Good story, good pic
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A riveting tale of a woman, her horse, and her principles.

Gail Ruffu loved horses ever since she was a child. Lots of kids go through a horse phrase, but Ruffu's affections only grew over time as she learned to care for, train, and race them. When at last she gains part ownership of a magnificent fella named Urgent Envoy, Ruffu thinks she's in horse heaven. However, her troubles are just beginning, no thanks to her sneaky, duplicitous co-owners, who have very different ideas about how racehorses
Becky B
Gail Ruffu wanted to try to train a racehorse using unconventional methods better for the health of the horse. At first her partners agreed with her methods, but when they got impatient for the horse to start earning money they ignored their agreement to follow her methods and went the more conventional route. When Gail found out that they were going to race Urgent Envoy on a fractured leg, she took the horse for its own safety. And what followed was a long and painful fight for justice for both ...more
Excellent graphic novel about a woman who "steals" a Thoroughbred horse to save it from being further injured while racing, and the long drawn-out ordeal that ensues over years as she fights to keep the horse safe and to get her racing training license reinstated. The author is related to the subject of the book (they're cousins, I think), and he was intrigued by her story when she revealed that she was essentially a fugitive hiding a horse for years! The main point of the story is to show how c ...more
Christine Smith
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Non-Fiction book in GN form, YES PLEASE! These types of books are the most accessible to students and I am so excited to share this with them. What is not to love of this book? LOVED the family history and connection. G. Neri took the little known story of his Aunt Gail Ruffu's courageous story of conviction to tell the tale of the mistreatment of racehorses and her brave attempt to save one young horse, despite the loss of everything. As a woman who spent her life around horses, Ruffu hoped t ...more
This is the true story of a woman who bought a race horse with another person - but that person was a lawyer and he brought in a number of other people without telling her and changed the terms of their agreement, resulting in disaster for both her and the horse. In order to save the horse from the cruel treatment and from bodily harm, she "stole" him (he was 20% hers after all) and took him to a safe place. The other owners then took her to court and took away her training license and her livel ...more
Cheriee Weichel
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to work hard to find a copy of this book, but it was worth all the effort!
If you, or someone you know is into horses, get this book. It's based on the true story of the author's cousin, Gail Ruffu, who lost everything to save the life of a horse she was part owner of. Gail Ruffu is an inspirational role model. What you learn about horse racing in America is appalling. "In American horse racing, twenty-four racehorses (on average) die every week on racetracks." This doesn't include the tho
G. Neri sheds light on the life events of his cousin, Gail Ruffu, in Grand Theft Horse. Corban Wilkin’s old western style of illustrations add to the theme as Ruffu’s struggles are told. Even before she began training Urgent Envoy, Ruffu loved horses and dreamed of working with them. Her love for animals forced her to take action when Urgent Envoy’s injuries would soon turn fatal if he were forced to run again. Neri tells the true story in two timelines: one beginning with Ruffu taking Urgent En ...more
Perfect as a graphic novel this biographical story of "grand theft horse" rather than "grand theft auto" features a cousin of Neri's who cared for the well-being of the love her life, a horse Urgent Envoy, at the disadvantage of the justice system and other owners who wanted to prosecute her for stealing the horse away from mistreatment.

It's a different side of horse culture, one of racing, but for Gail, one of love and passion. A female in a man's world. The bond between human and animal. I en
Jill Giardino
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never knew what was going on behind the scenes of horse racing until now. And with the Santa Anita Horse Track deaths in the news, this book couldn't be more timely. The writing and pictures told an interesting, exciting, and moving true story about a woman willing to risk it all for the sake of saving 1 horse. She was not against horse racing, she just wanted to see it done humanely, and she knew exactly what that meant, even when no one would listen. As a reader, I was able to follow along w ...more
Jozef Syndicate
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
YA author G. Neri writes, "I'm like a mash-up DJ of a writer: I sample real life and re-mix it into story." True to form, he delivered a thoughtful remix of horse trainer Gail Ruffu's life in "Grand Theft Horse." Neri retells Ruffu's feat to steal-- or, rather, rescue--her extraordinary racehorse Urgent Envoy, only to be labeled an outlaw and face Grand Theft Horse charges in the California Supreme Court. This graphic biography is a horselover's tale and whimsical girls-rock adventure.

Jennifer Sundt
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved the smell of the pages and the brown ink of the drawings. I loved that this story featured a woman in her 50s living by and putting herself on the line for her principles, and having all sorts of new experiences along the way. And, I really appreciated learning in this fast-read way the sordid details of abuse within the sport of horse racing (WTF.) This book isn't necessarily for the faint of heart - the villains of today and of humanity shown here are way worse than fictional - but I t ...more
Jim Morris
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A real pleasure! An amazing story of perseverance unlike anything I have read before. This was a real page turner. I also learned a lot about the physical stress racing puts on horses so it was a nice learning experience for me. The illustrations were great (particularly the character's expressions),. The main character was fascinating study of perseverance. This held my interest to the end. I also enjoyed the photos and the afterward got my attention. I consider the time that I spent on this ti ...more
Josh Newhouse
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 18jun
From FB: Horses make me nervous. Reading an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of Greg Neri’s new graphic novel about the life of his cousin, the “notorious” horse thief... “Grand Theft Horse” made me nervous in a very different way... like all his books, the rich characters are put through the wringer, and like his previous GN Yummy, there is truth in the telling... suffice it to say this was a quick and engaging read... and it makes me think about horses and those who love them a little differently.. ...more
Deena Lipomi
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gail Ruffo spent her childhood around horses and as an adult came up with her own racehorse training methods that didn't include drugs or overwork, so when her horse that she part owns, Urgent Envoy, is pushed past his limit, she hides him from his other owners and fights for his well-being despite being charged with "grand theft horse." This unique story illustrates a part of horse racing that is not often discussed and shows that humane treatment of animals should be natural. The illustrations ...more
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G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble. His books have been translated into multiple languages in over 25 countries. They include the novels Tru & Nelle, A Christmas Tale, Ghetto Cowboy, Knockout Games, Surf Mules, and two free ...more