Polo Cowboy

Candlewick. Oct. 2021. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536207118.
Gr 5 Up–When Cole, a young Black boy, chooses to keep living with his dad in Philadelphia, he thinks he has it made. He’ll be an urban cowboy and spend all his time riding his beloved horse. But Cole’s dad gets him a job at the nearby military academy, and Cole is suddenly working long hours for polo players there, who are rich, arrogant, and white. As his life becomes more tenuous and he notices the gaping differences between his community and the academy’s, Cole wonders what his future holds and what power he could possibly have to change it. This is the much-anticipated sequel to 2013’s Ghetto Cowboy, and while knowing Cole’s backstory may enrich the experience, it isn’t necessary to appreciate everything this book has to offer. Cole is at a turning point in his life, both old enough to make big decisions for himself and to learn that the consequences can alter his life. He struggles with a distant father, a cousin trying to pull him into a dangerous business, and racial disparity in his community. His voice shines through the entire time, allowing readers to empathize deeply with his journey. Polo may seem like a surprising choice, but the practices and matches are as nail-biting as any football game.
VERDICT Polo and cowboys come together, with a main character who will leap off the page and into readers’ hearts, in this moving story of growing up and grit.

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