Life has been absolutely ridiculous lately – buying and selling a house is not fun, y’all – and my reading for the Morris Award is nearing the end. Thankfully, this graphic novel arrive in just the right moment, when I really needed a story to lose myself in for a night. Not just any story though, something that would give me a little hope and get through the next month or so.
Gail Ruffu is a name you might not recognize, yet, but she is a champion for racehorses. She literally risked her entire life to save the life of a racehorse, and the only way she could do that was by stealing it. You see, Urgent Envoy was her horse, at least in part, and she was his trainer. The other owners understood that she was a little unconventional in her training methods – as in, she didn’t like using steroids and other drugs, but they got impatient waiting for the horse to win the big bucks at the track. Urgent Envoy had a small injury to his leg and Gail was overruled, then eventually shut out of the horse’s care while they ran him dangerously. So, she stole him and hid him.
This led to a long legal battle where the rich partners did everything they could to get the horse back and ruin her professional career – even tried to get her sent to prison. She put up the good fight … and this graphic novel tells the full story. Not knowing much about the sport of horseracing (just maybe catching the Kentucky Derby a time or two on TV), I learned quite a bit. Be sure to catch Gail’s personal afterword and appeal for better care for all race horses as well.
The art is very detailed, and quite well done. I’m not the best at talking about art styles and whatnot, but this really seems to match the story well. I’d recommend this to middle grade and teen readers who love animals, advocating for animals or others who need help, or maybe someone who needs a little hope for the little guy in a situation against seemingly impossible odds.
Grand Theft Horse
by G. Neri
Illustrated by Corban Wilkin
Tu Books, 2018