Author: Elise Primavera | Website
Publication Date:June 12th, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
My Interest: Review Request
Age Group | Genre: MG | Contemporary, Realism
I was the middle grader who started reading the Saddle Club series because I wanted a pony. I never got my pony, but I did get several chances to ride horses when I was young, and I loved it. Now that I look back, I definitely know I couldn’t have handled a horse. I liked to play too often, and working that much to take care of an animal just wouldn’t have been my top priority.
When author Elise Primavera asked me to read and review her novel, Libby of High Hopes, I was definitely in. Not only because it is about horses which I still love, but my best friend is named Libby, AND this just seemed like one of those hopeful novels I am always looking for.
I was graciously provided a copy via the author, Elise Primavera. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.
On her very last day of fourth grade, Libby Thump is told to “live up to her potential.” No matter how hard she tries, and she is trying!, Libby can’t seem to get A’s in her classes or swim on the winning relays. But her best friend Brittany sure can. It’s just a matter of priority to Libby–and horses and riding lessons just happen to be her number one thing.
So when Libby stumbles upon High Hopes Horse Farm, she feels as if it is her lucky day! Then she meets Princess, the most beautiful, prize-winning horse she has ever known. Suddenly, Libby feels as if her dreams can come true and her potential is just around the corner. However, her riding hopes seem to be dismayed when a string of disappointments enter her path.
I’m just going to start off with a simple request: Please, please go read Libby of High Hopes. Elise Primavera has written and illustrated such a beautiful novel that you cannot miss out on it. Her prose creates a story that envelopes the reader, while her pen and ink drawings add depth and magnificence to the prose’s visual aspect.
Plotwise, Libby of High Hopes pulled at my heart strings. It seems that no matter how hard Libby tries to live up to her potential–at one point she even overhears her father saying she will Go Far In Life–something seems to stop her. She stumbles upon High Hopes Horse Farm one day and approaches her parents about taking lessons because it is the one thing in the world she wants to do. But then suddenly, her sister is the one taking lessons, and Libby is stuck riding the pony Cough Drop.
Libby doesn’t let that stop her though, and that is what I love about this story. Primavera draws on her own history of riding, and she doesn’t leave a thing out about the riding lifestyle. As I mentioned above, I always wanted to be a rider, but now that I know how much is involved in riding and showing–I know there is no way I could have been as dedicated as Libby. What I love about the plot is that Primavera uses riding lingo and often gets very detailed about what it takes to care for horses. Not once was I lost in the verbage though. I think Primavera’s detail not only shows her knowledge and depth of the topic, but she lets readers know exactly what it takes to chase this sort of dream.
Character wise, I flel in love with Libby. Honestly, I think her trials and tribulations reminded me of my life and the times I’m knocked down. But really, I think Libby’s story is everyone’s story, and what I love most about her is she keeps dreaming. Sure, at one point she asks, “What do you do when everything is life seems unfair?” and sure, she spends a little time stewing–but her journey is entirely realisic! The fact that Libby forms such a beautiful friendship with Princess and lets her riding dreams pull her out of her sadness makes her a wonderful heroine She is a beautiful little girl, full of hope and friendship, and I think that any little reader who picks up this novel will find a new friend in her.
Libby of High Hopes is definitely a 5-rating novel. Primavera draws us into Libby’s world and gives us such a hopeful message in her beautiful prose. My heartstrings were played with this novel, and I even felt a few tears as I got near the end. The illustrations were simply an added bonus, and something I would frame and hang in my future daughter’s room should she ever go through a pony phase. I warn you–if you pick up this novel you’ll be laughing one minute and crying the next. But you won’t be disappointed in the least–you may even walk away with a little more hope.
If you like this novel, you might like….
The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls by Elise Primavera
Wonder by R. J.Palacio
[for ratings system, please check out my Bookshelf]