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Libby of High Hopes

Review

Libby of High Hopes

Libby Thump is almost 11 years old and loves horses. She spends many hours in her room with her dog Margaret, which gives her more time to dream about horses and to draw them. She 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)."

Sal Ricci and his wife, Emily, run the place. Sal seems sad and not at all like a person with “high hopes.” Libby asks him about riding lessons, and he says, in no uncertain terms, that they used to give lessons, but no more. Still, Libby is most persistent and runs home to tell her family all about the stables and that, more than anything, she would like to take riding lessons. Her parents remind her that she is only 10 and that it’s just not time. Before she knows it, her big sister Laurel is the one who might get to take lessons. Can this be happening? 

What kind of summer will Libby have? School is almost out, and she’s at loose ends. Even her teacher, Mrs. Williams, tells Libby that it’s important for her to live up to her potential. Libby is not sure what that means and how can she do it if she doesn’t understand it. On top of that, Brittany isn’t even her best friend anymore. Somewhere along the line, Brittany has become the center of attention to other girls who are more important than Libby. At least she is going to be invited to Brittany’s “Princess Spa Party,” whatever that is. Going to Brittany’s party pales in comparison to taking riding lessons, but she knows she won’t get to do that. It looks like it’s going to be a frustrating summer ahead unless she can figure some things out.

Laurel starts taking riding lessons at High Hopes. Libby watches all this longingly but is also busy making a suggestion to Sal and Emily. Perhaps she can help in the stables, just to be around the horses (especially the beautiful white horse named Princess), and then she can learn things just by watching. This idea seems to go over very well with Sal, and before she knows it, Libby is learning all sorts of things about horse care and riding. She also meets a wonderful old man named Mr. McClave and his horse, George. Things begin to look very positive, and even though she can’t take riding lessons, there are good things happening at the stables and with her.

However, things don’t continue to go the way Libby wants. Unexpected happenings bring some great challenges to the stables and to Emily and Sal. The bond with Princess, which has grown over time, seems threatened when her sister gets to ride her, and then there’s an awful thing that happens with Mr. McClave. Life doesn’t seem fair, and these dark times cause Libby to do some foolish things.

Elise Primavera has beautifully captured the quirky and sweet personality of Libby, a delightful 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 Tibbetts on June 30, 2012

Libby of High Hopes
by Elise Primavera

  • Publication Date: June 12, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • ISBN-10: 1416955429
  • ISBN-13: 9781416955429