The Beef Princess of Practical County
Michell Houts

Delacorte Press for Young readers
Hardcover/240 pages
ISBN: 978-0-38573584-1
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"Everything about this book is genuine . . . the right blend of humor and common sense."

You might think that living in Practical County, Indiana would be a prescription for a mundane, boring life. But 12-year-old Libby Ryan loves everything about the country, especially the thought that she’ll be involved in raising a steer to compete for grand champion at the Practical County Fair. Sounds simple enough: raise the best-looking steer and bring home the prize that’s eluded her big brother Ronnie. But first she has to gain her father’s respect, her mother’s approval, and her granddad’s vision.

Libby knows she has big shoes to fill, and she’s made up her mind to do it. She’s growing up on Ryansmeade, the Ryan family farm with the reputation of raising the best beef in Practical County. She finds out she not only has to compete with her big brother’s reputation as a superb showman and other competitors for grand champion at the fair, but she also has to compete with herself and her own self-doubts. To throw in another wrinkle, she has to face off against one of the reigning Darling sisters (and they’re anything but “darling”) in the fair queen contest!

Everything about this book is genuine. The story is told with the right blend of humor and common sense. The author puts her readers in the muddy boots, holey jeans, and tee shirt of Libby, who proceeds to learn the meaning of family and the art of giving back to the community. But there are hard lessons to be learned as well. She must deal with bullying school mates (again, the Darling sisters), discover that you should never judge a book by its cover, and cope with the loss of an animal.


Reviewer: Janet Musick