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. There's a lot going on, and abrupt transitions can sometimes unmoor readers, 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. (Fiction. 8-12)