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Grand Theft Horse

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  124 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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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  518 ratings  ·  124 reviews


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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.
Dorcas
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?
Sunday
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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 Ru
...more
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
...more
Kend
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 ...more
Bookslut
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.
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
...more
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
...more
Ellen
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.
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 Wilson,
...more
Sesana
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, nonfiction
Wildly absorbing.
Mauri
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: notinlibby
G. Neri writes the story of his cousin, Gail Ruffu, the first person to be charged with Grand Theft Horse in the state of California in 150 years. It’s a story of a lone older woman trying to save a horse from the abusive practices of the US horse racing industry, going up against her traitorous co-owners (who went in promising Ruffu she could train and race the horse humanely) as well as the California Horse Racing Board.

Reader, she succeeds.

Ruffu spent over five years of her life hiding the h
...more
Lara
So, this was the third time I brought this book home from the library. The THIRD! Sometimes I am super snobby about art and I kept flipping through this and seeing all the sepia and just thinking, "nah." But then I would take it back and turn it in and almost immediately have second thoughts because I like G. Neri so much. So finally after the third checkout and leaving it sitting around in my house for three months, I forced myself to start it...and was totally sucked in by like, page 2. Someti ...more
Liz
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.
Shauna Yusko
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Strong 3 1/2. Pair with American Phaoroh (Mickle) and Riding Invisible (Alonzo)
Michelle
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.
Kathleen
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A legal thriller with a lot of heart (and horses!) Get ready for some righteous indignation.
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
Sarah B
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book based on a true story, of how a horse trainer named Gail Ruffu stole the racehorse Urgent Envoy to save his life. Several parts of this story made me misty eyed, mainly because I love horses.

I admit I really didn't know much about the world of horse racing before I started to read this book (my experience being limited to watching the fictional Black Stallion win every race on the TV series)..so it was very eye opening. I had no idea they drug the poor horses and force
...more
Marisa
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
...more
Leigh Anne
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
...more
Elna
What a wonderful, frustrating story! Gail, who has always had a passion for horses, learned horse racing in Europe, where drugs are banned and humane treatment encouraged. But when she came to the US, where the focus is on winning rather than the horses (meaning: it’s the norm to drug them, run them too young, etc.) and tried to race her way (and attempt to prove that it’s not just possible, but better), everyone thought she was out of touch and too soft.

She chooses a horse and names him Urgent
...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
Michelle Tuite
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading 2020
Book 117: Grand Theft Horse by G. Neri

This is my third G. Neri selection. Reviewed Yummy earlier this year. Also really enjoyed his novel Ghetto Cowboy. This selection is a graphic novel.

The book is a biography of a horse trainer Gail Ruffu, Neri's cousin. Gail is an unconventional type of horse trainer, she wants to race horses without drugs, and not too soon before their bones have had a chance to mature. Gail finds herself in a contract to train and race a horse. The others in the
...more
Anne
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
Nadina
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This was a really good biography, and I think honestly graphic novels are great ways to read biographies because they are more interactive and are more action oriented rather than telling all emotions/thoughts, etc.
I believe I discovered this book when looking at the goodreads best graphic novels of 2018 and with it being about horses I was definitely interested.
I like how the book was arranged, including the use of flashbacks and time jumps.
The use of brown and white instead of black and whi
...more
Sarah McElrath
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
An incredibly well-done graphic biography. Totally opened my eyes to the dark side of horse racing--all while telling a compelling personal story of how one woman, Gail Ruffu, as a horse trainer, tried to make a change for the better.

The art is all done in brown-n-white, and the choice of moment, movement, expression and dialogue is spot-on. It all pulled me right through the book in one sitting.

As a reader, I was on Gail's side from the start of the book. Her love for horses and for Urgent Envo
...more
Alicia
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
...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
...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-ver ...more

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