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The Beef Princess of Practical County

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  319 ratings  ·  78 reviews
After years of waiting, it is finally Libby Ryan's turn to shine at the Practical County Fair. Libby is filled with excitement as she and her granddad pick out two calves for her to raise on her family's cattle farm, in hopes of winning the annual steer competition. Against her father's advice, Libby gives the calves names, even though both steers will eventually be auctio ...more
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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One of my local booksellers said she passed on this book because she didn't think kids in our area could relate to a girl who raises and sells her own steer. She changed her mind when I pointed out that 4H is huge in the eastern part of our county.

And for those of us who will never raise a steer or goat or even a rabbit, I think this is an important book because it portrays a way of life we city folk never experience. And Libby is a likable character who struggles with the tensions between her l
Sandra Stiles
For anyone who ever grew up in a farming town this book may just be a trip down memory lane. Growing up on a farm I named all of our animals, even when I knew they were to be sold or butchered. I therefore identified with Libby Ryan. She grew up in the shadow of her brother and for me it was an older sister. There comes a time when parents have to let you learn by making some of your own mistakes. This is what Libby’s parents finally do. She learns to believe in herself and work hard for her dre ...more
Raymond Bial
The Beef Princess of Practical County is a touching and delightful book. Children’s literature at its finest, this little novel will appeal to both young and old—anyone who enjoys an artfully crafted story. Anyone who grew up in the country will especially appreciate this sweet and loving portrayal of a wonderful farm family. And young people growing up in the cities and suburbs today will enjoy learning about real life in rural and small town America.
Abigail M
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
12 year-old Libby lives in Practical County, Indiana. (Not a real Indiana County - but it could be.) She lives on her family’s cattle farm and is excited to be old enough to choose two calves to raise for her County Fair. She chooses the calves in September. Her job is to raise the calves herself all year and then choose one to show at the Fair the next summer. Having the winning cow at the Fair would bring a lot of pride to her family, and also a good amount of money to her college fund at the ...more
Ashley Bieber
Libby Ryan a very smart girl with a lot of potential and courage. Now she has to raise two cattle and prove to her dad that she is just as good as her older brother Ronnie. After a few months of preparing for the Practical County Fair, everything is starting to become a big deal to Libby. Not only is she growing closer to her steels with each passing day but the pressure to win Grand Champion is mounting in her head but Libby’s mother also ropes her into entering the Beef Princess Beauty Pageant ...more
To Begin: This is more of a middle grade book, and I knew that going into it, but I wanted to get it because I can relate to it. My dad has a farm and he raises beef cattle, too, so I've grown up around this type of thing.

Characters: Libby was a wonderful character. She was well defined, and you can relate to her, and see where she's coming from with the issues she deals with in this book. However, I felt like the adults in the book - her mother, her father, and her grandfather, for the most par
One of the odder storylines, Beef Princess still manages to hold onto the readers’ attention while maintaining its rural background.

I am not quite sure what to say about this book—it is unlike anything else I have read. The storyline focuses more of the growth of the steers and Libby’s ambition to make her father proud. In some ways I can relate to Libby. Being overshadowed to an older sibling you are forever compared to and judged by their accomplishments. Can you do better? The struggle to pe
I was on the Young Hoosier committee that selected this as one of our middle grades titles (after all, it IS set in Indiana!). I enjoyed reading the author's blog and background. (and my husband lived in Warsaw for awhile). I enjoyed the characters, although the Darling girls seemed a bit much at times (but perhaps not for students reading the book). Even Frannie, the four year old, had a fun personality. (I've read that truly gifted children have more than one imaginary friend at a time, althou ...more
Kay Mcgriff
Just in time for county fair season (okay, just past our county fair), I read The Beef Princess of Practical County (Scholastic 2010) by Michelle Houts. If the county fair is the highlight of your summer–whether you complete 4-H posters, show animals, compete in the fair pageant, or just take it all in, you will enjoy Libby’s story.

This is Libby’s first time to show steers at the Practical County Fair in Nowhere, IN, and she is determined that she can live up to the Ryan family name and follow i

The Beef Princess of Practical County

The book Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts is about a teenage girl named Libby Ryan, she picks out fair calves in her grandpas pasture for the county fair. She has to decide which one she takes to the fair. She picks her favorite to take to the fair, but one night he gets his leg caught between some gates and while struggling to get free he hurts his leg. So her dad takes him to the slaughterhouse. Then she decides to take her other one to
Gretchen S.
The Beef Princess Of Practical County
Michelle Houts

This book by Michelle Houts is about a girl named Libby who is raising cattle for the Practical county fair. She is trying to beat the Darlings who are also in the pageant at the fair. So in order to beat the Darling trio, Libby raises two calves on her own, and she enters herself into the pageant.

This was not the best book in the world, but it was okay. There was quite a bit of completion though which most of the time makes for a good read. For
If you enjoy contemporary realistic fiction then The Beef Princess of Practical County is a good choice for you when choosing a Lovelace nominee. The main character is 7th-Grader Libby Ryan. The Ryan family’s livelihood is raising, showing and selling steers at market. Libby has grown up surrounded by the workings of the beef industry on property owned and run by her family for generations.

When the story begins Libby is picking out the calves she for whom she will care and groom to show (and the
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jaglvr for

THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY is a sweet coming-of-age novel.

Libby loves the cow farm she's grown up on. But she's lived in her brother's shadow and her father has never noticed her when it comes to the farm. When her brother heads off to college, Libby is granted the chance to raise two calves for the next county fair. She will only be able to show one of the calves, but she has the opportunity to show her father what she can do.

When her dear Piggy
Libby Ryan is getting ready to follow in the family footsteps and raise and show cattle at the county fair. She picks two calves and raises them, wanting to beat the evil Darling sisters (Precious, Lil, and Ohma) who don’t even care about animals, but just want to make money. Libby becomes attached to her calves, Piggy and Mule, and after one of them dies, she wonders if showing cattle is even for her. Should she quit, showing everyone (including her father, who thinks showing cattle isn’t a gir ...more
Fun story about raising a steer for the county fair. I learned a lot about cows and county fairs in this book! Twelve year old Libby lives on an Indiana cattle farm, and has always dreamed of showing a steer that would become the Grand Champion; she wants to outshine her older brother, who's been the family champion cow-show-person. (See, I don't even know how to describe this stuff, I am such a city girl!) She ends up with two steer, one's docile and perfect, while the other is stubborn and orn ...more
Ages 9+ (nothing objectionable, other than catty girls)

7th grader Libby Ryan is from a long line of northern Indiana cattlemen. This year, with her older brother Ronnie starting his freshman year at Purdue, it's up to her to raise the prize steer for the Practical County fair. Supported by her best friend, Carol Ann, and antagonized by the awful Darling sisters (Precious, Lil and Ohma), she develops a close bond with her two steer and struggles with the knowledge that the animals she loves are
This was a nice debut from a new author. YA lit needs more books with rural settings, and this is a solid contribution. Libby Ryan, the heroine, lives on her family farm and discovers the hard way why you never *ever* name livestock. While experiencing the trials and tribulations of raising competitive steers, Libby feels a tad overshadowed by her successful older brother studying Ag at Purdue. The antagonists are the Darling sisters, whose personalities are just as gag-worthy as their names (Pr ...more
Mrs. Trimble
Michelle Houts is a great storyteller! And it's refreshing to read a young adult book that does not have any mature content like drugs, drinking, sex, suicide, etc.. This is a great story about growing up on a farm, working hard, family bonds, personal pride, and self-confidence. It's also a story about the loss and grief that is sometimes part of life.
I liked this book for many reasons, but namely because it hit so close to home. I grew up on a farm in rural Ohio and raising livestock for show and sale purposes was a part of life. While I never got too attached to our fair animals, I can identify with Libby in this coming of age story. I liked it because it is the story of where I am and where I came from. I also liked it because Houts writes in such a clear and honest way without pretension. The book is well-written, but never more than what ...more
Jenilyn Willis
I thought this book was okay. It wasn't terrible or anything, but there was just something about it that didn't really grab me. I think in the end it relates to my "schema" (as Dr. Thompson-Book put it). The book is about a girl who is raising her first steer to put into the county fair in hopes that it will be named champion and someone will buy it. It's very much about the country and raising cattle and things like that, which I can't relate to at all. I've never really been around things like ...more
April Suter
A must read for all girls, young and old, who have ever showed cattle or anyone who would love to read about a wholesome farming family. I loved it! The market is full of books that are full of depressing topics and how horrible life can be--Yuck! This book makes you laugh and remember what it is like taking care of animals, your family and your family farm. This book is for the girls who work hard on their projects--not just the girls that show up on "Show Day" all dressed up and ready to go be ...more
Very realistic depiction of life on a beef farm. I couldn’t help but find humor in Libby’s story because is was quite similar to my own life. I even shared her brief stint of being a vegetarian when I auctioned off my one and only beef steer Elmer. I rarely eat red meat to this day.

Although I enjoyed reading the story, I thought the plot was mundane and predictable. In addition, some of the subplots seemed incomplete and almost unneeded. Especially the pageant competition, I’m not sure exactly
Recommended Ages: grades 5-8

Twelve-year-old Libby, the daughter of an Indiana cattle farmer, raises two calves in hopes of winning the annual steer competition at the county fair, but fails to follow her father's warning about developing a bond with animals that are destined to be sold at auction.

I thought this was a pretty good book. It takes place on a cattle farm in northern Indiana, so I would recommend it for public/school libraries in small, farming communities. The main character was like
Ginny Marie
Libby learns the hard way that naming her shows calves is not a good idea. This novel, geared for young adults aged 9-12, is a story about life on the modern farm. It explores why farm animals are not pets but yet are loved and cared for by their caregivers. I really enjoyed this book, and I think my 10 year old daughter will enjoy it, too!
Jul 21, 2012 Amy added it
Libby is a 12-year-old girl, living on a cattle farm, and it's her first year to get out of the shadow of her brother and raise 2 steers for the Practical County Fair. As a suburban girl, I loved a peek into life on a farm but I could also relate to Libby's pain as she raises the steers like pets only to know that they'll be sold off for beef after the fair. It's a very sweet middle grade with plenty of humor (Libby's younger sister has imaginary grandchildren) and also deeper questions about fa ...more
I also raised a steer and sold it at the county fair, so I could really relate to this book. Well written but brought back memories of my sadness at selling Max...thus the 3 stars.
David Allender
Love this book. The Beef Princess of Practical County is tough and an emotional roller coaster--such an exceptional treatment of country life and the people and traditions who sustain it. Even more exceptional for its realistic depiction of a girl's journey to adulthood, with its mix of joy and bitter compromises. The perfect novel for middle readers who want a novel that feels realer than real.
Dicha Irene
I liked this book, a lot.
Valerie Soley
i love this book. its about a 12 year old girl named libby, who lives on her family's beef farm. it is tradition that each child at the age of 12 and up chooses a cow to show at the local county fair. living on a beef cow farm, Libby knows not to get attatched to the animals. but when training her cow for the fair, the bond between them gets stronger, and it will be difficult for Libby to let her cow go. the ending will leave you in tears. this is one of the few books that have made me cry.
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