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THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY by Michelle Houts

THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY

by Michelle Houts

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: April 14th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-73584-1
Publisher: Delacorte

Set in rural Indiana, this refreshing tale chronicles the experience of Libby, a well-grounded 12-year-old who raises and then shows a steer at the annual county fair. That’s the fun part of the fair for Libby, the middle child in a cattle-ranching family. The less fun part is the Beef Princess pageant she ambivalently enters, a contest that pits her against a beautiful but obnoxious girl, one of the Darling sisters. And the terrible part is the knowledge that the steer she’s carefully tended will be auctioned off, sold to the highest bidder for meat. That’s the practical reality Libby has to come to terms with at the Practical County Fair, and Houts does a creditable job of making her journey believable. This coming-of-age story is fueled by the passionate soul-searching of its authentically drawn protagonist. It’s a minor misfortune that the subplots concerning Libby’s competition with the Darling sisters have holes the size of longhorns. Still, readers will be rooting for Libby as she makes difficult choices about both her steer and her life. (Fiction. 10 & up)