Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Polo Cowboy

Neri, G. Polo Cowboy
October 12th 2021 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Cole has enjoyed working with horses so much in Ghetto Cowboy that he decides to stay in Philadelphia with his father, Harp, instead of going back home with his mother. This is a bit of an adjustment, especially since Harp expects him to fend for himself, getting free lunch and breakfast, working with the horses at the inner city stable in the morning, and taking an after school job at a nearby military academy to work off the debt incurred by boarding his horse, Boo, there. It's a grueling day, and the school is more challenging than his school back home. He occasionally meets up with his cousin, Smush, who is engaged in a variety of illegal activities. Harp doesn't want Cole to have anything to do with him, but Cole still likes being with his cousin, although he does not appreciate getting roped into his business. Cole meets Ruthie near the old police barn, and finds that she is an avid polo player. She is a student at the military academy, which is unusual for both a girl and a student of color. She starts to teach Cole how to play the sport, and he is both intrigued by her equine interests and her forthright attitude, especially about the vitiligo the affects her face. He is a little leery of her wealthy background, and has not had the best experience with other people at the school. He takes part in a polo exhibition at the school, and Smush tries to get involved, but it ends poorly. When his life is impacted by tragedy, Cole has to think hard about how he wants to proceed with his new life in Philadelphia. 
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about taking care of horses, and also about riding and playing polo. Terms are introduced in a way that is easy to understand, since Cole is learning about the sport as well. His relationship with Ruthie is fun to watch, and it's ogod to see them connect over a shared passion. Harp's parenting is something Cole needs to get used to, and the people he collects as his family offer him a strong support system. The racial issues with the military academy seem realistic, and Cole must find ways to work within the system while not agreeing with it. 
Weaknesses: I wish there had been a little bit more about Cole's school, since he entertains the idea of going to the academy. The principal was an intriguing character, and I would have liked to see a few more scenes set in the school. 
What I really think: Ghetto Cowboy came out ten years ago, which is almost around the time my 6th graders were born. My copy is in decent shape, mainly because my students aren't eager to pick it up. I'll see if I can brush it off and get some interest in it before I purchase this sequel. Perhaps if my students see the movie of the first book, they will be interested in it. 
Ms. Yingling

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