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Black Beauty: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 25, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

"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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143106470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143106470
  • ASIN: 0143106473
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
We often talk about teaching children values, but in most cases children's literature is insipid and of no lasting value. BLACK BEAUTY, however, is both valuable as art and valuable for the virtues it teaches: kindness, common sense, and helping those who cannot help themselves. The book is well written in clean prose. It does not over reach the "reading child," nor does it talk down to him. And although it is touching and occasionally sad, it is not in the least sentimental.
The story, of course, is about Black Beauty, a handsome horse who is born and raised in happy circumstances. But in Victorian England horses were used much as we use cars today: they were things to be bought and sold and then gotten rid of when they were no longer useful. Black Beauty is first sold to a good home, but as time passes he is sold again and again--and not always to people who treat him kindly or even to those who give him common care.
There are adventures aplenty, like a stable fire and a dangerous bridge; there are many memorable characters, like the horse Ginger and the kind cabbie Jerry. All of them are seen from Black Beauty's point of view, and beautifully, perfectly described. My mother read this book to me, and as soon as I could I was anxious to read it myself; now, some thirty years later I have stumbled once more upon it. And I can honestly say that it lives up to my memory: it is a fine book, and one that every parent should place in the hands of their children. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By MikeB TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful chapter book for a child who is reading at around a 5th grade level to read alone. Black Beauty is a classic. We all know that it tells the life story of an English riding horse from his own point of view. What can be harder to remember is how deftly it teaches children about the importance of kindness to their fellow creatures.

During the course of his lifetime, Beauty experiences the best and the worst humanity has to offer its companion animals. Children old enough to read this book will just be developing the kind of empathy skills necessary to understand how important kindness is, even, and perhaps especially, to those who cannot verbalize their gratitude.

The book teaches kids to notice how they and their peers treat others, and I have been buying it for all of the kids in my life for as long as I can remember.

I particularly like this edition because it is unabridged (the story is perfect), and because the illustrations are enchanting. I'd give it a hundred stars if I could.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A. Ryan on June 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Being a typical horse-loving 10 year old girl (way, way back in the day..), it almost goes without saying that of course I read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. The story of the gentle black horse in Victorian England is simple and perfect. It's a true classic for kids, proven over several generations that have grown up reading it just as I did. With this in mind, I went looking to buy a copy at a bookstore yesterday as a birthday present for a 10 year old young lady.

Now as far as I know, kids today are no less intelligent, and they do still teach them to read starting in Kindergarten. So imagine my horror at discovering that the attractively bound, hardback of Black Beauty that I picked up was, uh, *paraphrased* (actually there are more accurate terms for it, but for the sake of the Amazon censors I'd better stick to the less graphic ones). Comparing selections of this version side by side with the original, the so-called "Classic Starts" Black Beauty plot is stripped down; worse, the lovely language of the original has been replaced with, ahem, simplified text and dialog that could have been written by the author of the Judy Moody books. This left little sense of the turn of the century England setting, and completely obliterated the spirit and style of Anna Sewell. Is this the publisher's idea of a quality introduction to children's lit?

What I really want to know is, why change it at all? As I said, kids today aren't less smart, they should be able to read the real Black Beauty well enough by the time they are in the 9-12 suggested age range. The reason it's a classic is because IT WORKED JUST AS IT WAS. Sorry, I had to put that in large type for the publishers, who evidently believe that the rest of the population matches their literary fluency.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By appaloosa on May 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Since pictures & illustrations are as much a part of a child's imagination as the written word, then this book beautifully combines both, with the abundant B&W line illustrations by illustrator Lucy Kemp-Welch, in addition to the 12 colour plates included - all in keeping with the time period this novel is set in. A wonderful edition to any child's library.
I've been reading horse-topic related books for as long as I can remember; but the very 1st horse story that left an indelible impression on me was ANNA SEWELL's " BLACK BEAUTY ".
It really openend my eyes as to the abuse and cruelty - and majestic fraility - that these wonderful creatures suffer at the hands of their human counterparts.
Ms Sewell opted to write this book from " the horse's point of view " and she was one of the very few authors that was able to pull this off with such great success.
This book also, laid the cornerstone for the ASPCA aims and goals, and brought to light the conditions and treatment of working horses in 20th century London, England ( and elsewhere ).
The story is such a wonderful tale of a horse's life from start to finish; told with a quiet dignity and warmth - and serves as a successful analogy also, as to how humans should interact with one another.
This book also laid the cornerstone for my interest and love of horses, and further spurred my interest in reading about all things Equine.
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