Do horses make you think of rolling hills and sprawling countryside estates? Do they bring to mind cattle herds and the endless sky? Do you hear the pounding of hooves from a spot in a hat-bedecked audience? When you think of ghettos, do you picture a stables there?
Cole definitely didn’t picture a stables when his mother suddenly drives him to Philadelphia from Detroit. Unable to cope longer with the Cole’s troubles, his mother brings him to the father he thinks he’s never known. Within minutes, Cole is wrestling with a flood of new experiences–his mother abandoning him, a dead horse, ramshackle stables and the man who named him Coltrane. Cole can’t believe he has to share a tiny house with a horse at Chester Avenue.
Cole wants nothing to do with the horses that make him wary, no matter than young kids flock to the stables each day to help care for the animals. Cole will take mucking out the stables and wrecking his sneakers over dealing directly with the animals. His father might work wonders with the horses rescued from racetracks, but he’s not getting anywhere with his son. As Cole comes to know the community, he sees some good things happening there. A horse Cole comes to call Boo starts to win Cole over.
Unfortunately, the city wants to shut the stables down in order to use the land for other purposes. Trucks no longer come to haul the manure away, making it harder to keep the neighborhood on the cowboys’ side. When people come to shut the stables down after a big storm, Cole takes it upon himself to rescue Boo and other horses.
I was fascinated by the inner city cowboys that inspired this book. This is a wonderful middle grade read. Cole is an engaging narrator with a surprising story that I hope can hook readers. It’s one that made me cheer.