Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kid Konnection: Libby of High Hopes

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a delightful book for middle grade readers.

Summary: 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. -- Simon & Schuster

Evidently, part of me is still a young girl who loves to read. That became quickly apparent when I picked up LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES by Elise Primavera. This very special story about a girl who wants to be a horsewoman is sure to appeal to girls ages 8 - 12. It's sweet and funny, but it's also heartwarming. I have a feeling that little girls are going to not only love Libby, but they are also going to be able to relate to her.

LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES tells the story of Libby Thump, a 10 year old girl who is obsessed with horses. All she wants to do is take horseback riding lessons and learn to ride; however, her mother decides that her older sister needs the lessons more than Libby does. And if that's not enough, Libby's mother also wants Libby to be more "ladylike."

Libby's mom just doesn't get it! Libby just wants to be herself and that means drawing pictures of horses and learning to ride them -- not taking swimming lessons like her mother forces her to do. In addition, Libby is having issues with her long-time best friend who just happens to be the daughter of her mom's best friend. Libby feels like she can't exactly explain all of this to her mom, but she is determined to stay true to herself. How will Libby live out her own dreams, and at the same time, convince her parents that she is on the right path?

LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES is really a wonderful story that teaches children that life isn't always fair or easy -- sometimes you can't get what you want. However, the ultimate message is much more positive than that. Through Libby's persistence and determination, she shows kids that they can accomplish their dreams even when it seems unlikely. In many ways, Libby is such an inspirational character; and I do think her problems with friends, parents, siblings, and more will resonate with many readers.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this novel so much was the character of Libby. She is positively adorable and extremely real to me; and I think the author did a wonderful job bringing her to life. I love her reactions to her teacher's comment that she's not living up to her potential, and I think her feelings towards her parents, her sister, and her best friend were very honest. I also think her passion for horses is something that many children will relate to.

Another thing that made LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES so special were Ms. Primavera's pencil drawings. Ms. Primavera is an extremely talented writer and artist, and I thought her sketches were a welcome addition to the book. (I know my eight year old likes books that have the occasional illustration because it breaks up the words!) I was never one for drawing or horses, but I can only imagine how much horse crazy girls will love all of the pictures of Libby and the horses.

As a mother, I can't rave enough about LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES. I thought it was a fun read, but it also touches upon many relevant issues that face today's young girls. There are so many great messages. As a result, I am recommending it for book clubs and especially mother-daughter ones. Some of the themes you might want to discuss with your child include ambitions, dreams, parent/child relationships, friendship, jealousy, sacrifice, living up to your potential, talents, peer pressure, and self-acceptance.

In conclusion, I think LIBBY OF HIGH HOPES is wonderful! It's a fun story with well-developed characters that also incorporates many valuable life lessons. I am certainly glad to see this novel is the first in a new series because young girls will certainly want more of Libby!

Make sure you stop by tomorrow because Ms. Primavera has prepared a special guest post for my Book Club Exchange feature -- and it's a good one!

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

This does sound really good and, as a mom and a daughter, I bet I could see some of the issues from both sides. I love that it's beautifully illustrated as well.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

The cover is gorgeous and I'm really interested in how the messages play out!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

This book sounds delightful. My daughter was never into horses but my son loves them and collected books about horses. I bet he would enjoy this one even if the protagonist is a girl.

Beth F said...

This sounds wonderful. I bet my niece would have loved this. Great lessons here and Libby sounds like she has spunk but is still a good kid.