"A horse is a horse of course unless of course the horse is Black Beauty. Animal-loving children have been devoted to Black Beauty throughout this century, and no doubt will continue through the next. Although Anna Sewell's classic paints a clear picture of turn-of-the-century London, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.
Black Beauty tells the story of the horse's own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse. Throughout, Sewell rails--in a gentle, 19th-century way--against animal maltreatment. Young readers will follow Black Beauty's fortunes, good and bad, with gentle masters as well as cruel. Children can easily make the leap from horse-human relationships to human-human relationships, and begin to understand how their own consideration of others may be a benefit to all. (Ages 9 to 12)"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—This shortened, simplified version of Sewell's classic retains the broad outline of the original but eliminates many key events and glosses over the horses' suffering. Some incidents are compressed in time while others, such as the stable fire, the death of a drunken rider, and Ginger's suffering and death, are eliminated. Beauty sometimes softens the accounts of hardship with the observation, "that was not so bad." Jeffers's illustrations are the most impressive part of the book; almost all of them appeared in Robin McKinley's longer adaptation (Random, 1986). Some illustrations have been recolored or altered slightly. The horses outshine the humans, revealing the artist's love for and skill in depicting the magnificent animals. Because the earlier book includes much more of Jeffers's work and offers a more complete version of Black Beauty's story, libraries with that version will certainly want to retain it. Consider this new work as needed to satisfy demands for horse stories for young listeners not ready for the harsh conditions depicted in Sewell's novel.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
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