Libby of High Hopes
Libby of High Hopes
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Hardcover, 9781416955429, 185pp.
Publication Date: June 12, 2012
It takes meeting the horse of her dreams for Libby Thump to finally live up to her potential in this chapter book series from New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Elise Primavera.
Ten-year-old Libby Thump loves two things: her dog Margaret and horses. She dreams about them, draws them all the time, and more than anything she wants to take lessons and learn to ride like a real horsewoman. But when her mother decides to give the lessons to her older sister instead, Libby is beside herself. Libby’s mom says Brittany needs the lessons more, to cure her “boy crazy phase”—and she also wants Libby to be “more girly,” like Brittany. But Libby just wants to be herself.
With charismatic optimism and determination, Libby hopes she can talk her parents into seeing her perspective. And in the meantime, at least she can visit the stables and see her favorite horse, Princess….
This all-new series featuring text and illustrations from Elise Primavera, of Auntie Claus and Louise the Big Cheese acclaim, will appeal to anyone interested in horses—or who knows the value of having a good friend.
Elise Primavera has, like Ivy, suffered her fair share of jinxes in life and has found it helpful, like Cat, to consult the I Ching before making any important decisions. She often feels, like Pru, that the safest place in this danger-filled world is under a quilt with a good book. As Franny dreams of doing, she has made her mark in the world but as a writer and illustrator of children's books and not as an explorer in the mold of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Among her many books are the national bestselling Auntie Claus and its sequel. This is her first novel, but it won't be her last, because like Hieronymus Gumm, she always likes to have the last word and is hard at work on another book about the Gumm Street Girls.
"Libby of High Hopes is the sort of book you can’t wait to share with someone else because you loved it so much. With fresh, clear prose, charming illustrations, and an absolutely unforgettable heroine, Elise Primavera perfectly captures that moment in childhood when everything seems possible—and impossible—all at the same time. There is a sweetness and an authenticity about this story that’s rare and immensely refreshing; it reminded me of the best of Beverly Cleary. Libby of High Hopes will keep you nailed to your chair till you turn that final page with a lump in your throat. And don’t be surprised if a lot of young readers suddenly start asking for riding lessons. "
-Diane Stanley, author of The Silver Bowl
"I wish I could take riding lessons at High Hopes Horse Farm with a friend just like Libby Thump!"
-—Marissa Moss, author of the Amelia’s Notebook series
"From page one to the last, Libby of High Hopes is a page turning ride.
Elise Primavera has created a young girl with family and friends so real you want to know them all. The journey through her summer is filled with soul and charm, simply wonderful."
-Petra Mathers, author of Lottie's New Beach Towel and many other books for young readers
It takes a while, but high hopes finally pay off for a horse-loving girl.
When 10-year-old Libby accidentally-on-purpose lets her dog run loose, she discovers a run-down stable next door, complete with a beautiful but somewhat neglected mare named Princess. Predictably enchanted, Libby goes home to beg for riding lessons—less predictably, her older sister gets the lessons instead. Libby comes up with a plan to work for lessons—and her sister uses the idea to work off the cost of riding boots. Undaunted, Libby learns to groom horses and spends time making Princess feel better. Meanwhile she's being forced onto a swim team, her former best friend is throwing an icky "Princess Party" and her sister discovers boys. It's a bit of a mess and not very cohesive, but Libby's natural charm and cheerful persistence carry the day—not to a blue-ribbon happy ending, but to a more satisfying conclusion that celebrates the real bond between horses and riders. Primavera's occasional, gently humorous black-and-white illustrations break up the generously spaced text.
A solid choice for horse lovers ready to move past early chapter books.
"Ten-year-old Libby Thump longs to become the best horseback rider in the entire world. However, her path to greatness is not without strife: her teenage sister steals her chance at riding lessons; her mother refuses to accept that her best friend’s daughter, Brittany, is now Libby’s ex-best friend; and she’s forced to continue the swimming lessons that she hates. It seems Libby won’t ever be able to “live up to her potential,” as her fourth-grade teacher says she needs to do. Still, Libby is plucky and persistent, and her infectious zeal manages not only to bring about the realization of her dreams, but also to inspire those around her. She is a lovely heroine, and her tribulations are relatable and realistic. Expressive full-page illustrations appear throughout. The well-written story teaches the gentle lesson that life can be unfair, but persistence and passion ultimately pay off."--School Library Journal
There’s nothing better than horses for ten-year-old Libby Thump, so she’s thrilled to discover that there’s a nearby riding stable that might offer lessons. In a painful irony, Libby’s parents do indeed fork out for lessons—for Libby’s older sister, Laurel. Libby does at least get the privilege of riding an old pony during Laurel’s class, and she hangs around the barn and learns as much as she can, taking a special interest in a retired jumper, Princess, and getting involved in the human drama of the stable’s owners. Primavera captures with easy sympathy the frustration of a kid who’s painfully close to getting what she wants, and the relationship between the sisters is plausible in its mix of envy, antipathy, and admiration; Libby’s gleeful immersion into the world of the stable is also credibly depicted. There’s too much plot going on, however, with Libby’s horsey yearnings, her falling out with an old friend, the stable’s issues, her sister’s lessons, and so on, and only the story of Libby’s yearning really emotionally engages. Young purists will wish for a little more equestrian authenticity, but dreamier youngsters won’t mind that the riding scenario is pretty much a kid-imagined reality rather than a plausible stable. Pen and ink illustrations exude cheerful energy, and chapter headpieces, shaded with hatching, occasionally recall the cartoon ponies of the great Norman Thelwell. Give this to kids looking for more after Haas’ Runaway Radish (BCCB 7/01). DS
--BCCB, July/August 2012
Libby Thump is almost 11 years old and loves horses. She spends a lot of her time in her room with her dog Margaret, which gives her more time to dream about horses and to draw them. She really wishes she could have a horse, or at least learn to ride one.It looks like life is just going to be drawing pictures of horses and not actually getting to ride them. But that all changes when she --- no, it’s actually Margaret --- discovers a nearby, rather run-down horse stable called High Hopes Horse Farm.
LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES would be a fantastic read-aloud in the classroom and would probably be equally enjoyed by girls and boys. It’s a fresh story with some good life lessons and well-developed characters (including the horses)."
Elise Primavera has beautifully captured the quirky and sweet personality of Libby, a delightful little character who struggles with the “potential” problem like any girl her age. There’s hardly any little girl who doesn’t go through her horse-loving phase, but Libby takes hers all the way. She finds out what potential is, but not before making plenty of mistakes while also helping other people in ways she doesn’t understand.
LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES would be a fantastic read-aloud in the classroom and would probably be equally enjoyed by girls and boys. It’s a fresh story with some good life lessons and well-developed characters (including the horses). We hope that Primavera will give us more books about Libby Thump very soon.
Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on June 30, 2012
With her whole heart, 10-year-old Libby longs to ride horses. But when she persuades her parents to visit a
nearby horse farm, they sign up her older sister for riding lessons and ask Libby to wait. Though stricken
by the unfairness of their decision, she knows that money is tight. Libby becomes a regular visitor at the
farm, where she gets to know the owners, the horses, and an elderly man who frequently comes to see his
horse. It’s a year of change for Libby and many of those around her, and change doesn’t come easily. Still,
the hardships along the way make the ending all the sweeter for readers involved in Libby’s story. The
wide-spaced lines of type and vivid black-and-white drawings make this an accessible, attractive choice
for younger chapter-book readers. Primavera offers a nuanced story that acknowledges some of the painful
parts of childhood without letting them diminish Libby’s resilient nature.