Teen Read Week is officially October 16th through 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you author interviews and profiles and reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us.
G.Neri knows urban youth. He is a visual storyteller who uses his powerful mastery of language and pacing to create stories for reluctant readers. His work has an authenticity that grabs you immediately. You are listening to the narrator’s voice and you are in it. G. Neri takes you there.
I was first introduced to G. Neri by way of Yummy, one of YALSA’s 2011 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels and 2011 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Yummy is the true story of the final days of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, who died as a result of gang conflict. I couldn’t wait to read more by G. Neri after reading this heartbreaking/groundbreaking graphic novel.
I’ve known about the Federation of Black Cowboys who ride not too far from my home in Brooklyn. So I was extra excited to read Ghetto Cowboy, the story of Cole, a young boy who becomes involved with the black cowboys in Philadelphia. The book begins in the heart of the action, an emotional tailspin as Cole is forced to leave his life in Detroit to live with his father in Philadelphia. His mother wants to keep him out of trouble, and this is the only way how. What she doesn’t know is how the Cowboy Way will affect her son, and the relationship he will build with his father.
Jesse Joshua Watson’s illustrations bring this story to life. You see Cole transform from a boy afraid of horses to a fearless rider. Cole learns what it means to care for his horse Boo, in return Cole receives love and trust from him.
What’s amazing is that although Ghetto Cowboy is a work of fiction, it is based on the actual struggles of urban black horseman in Philadelphia. His father Harp says, “You never know what someone will do with his life once he finds himself.” These are inspirational words that will resonate with readers of all ages.
G. Neri knows the power of voice, the vernacular carries this story, and readers of will rejoice in a story that speaks to them not at them.
— Marie Penny, currently reading Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol.
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