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Black Beauty Paperback – November 28, 2014
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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
Gr 1–3—This retelling joins several other picture book versions. It begins with a short foreword explaining the intent and impact of Sewell's work. Brown touches on major points from the original and maintains the horse's perspective. The story starts with Black Beauty following his mother's advice and trusting his instincts to save his stablemate, Ginger, from a fire and his master from a flooded bridge. In broad strokes, Brown covers the protagonist's life as a carriage horse, cab horse, and workhorse and concludes with the animal's reunion with his favorite groom. In keeping with the original, Black Beauty's cruel treatment is evident in the text and illustrations, but Brown omits gritty details, and the harsher aspects are balanced by happier times. The traditional, watercolor-style illustrations not only do justice to the narration but enliven it as well. The use of light and dark enhances the mood, and the artist gives her human and animal characters expressive faces. An afterword offers a quick overview of Sewell's life. VERDICT A good introduction to a classic, perfect for classroom reading and storytimes with older children. Pair it with Peter Parnall's Stuffer and Mônica Carnesi's Little Dog Lost for animal tales with happy endings.—Catherine Callegari, formerly at Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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
Each chapter of “Black Beauty” tells a simple, compelling story about some stage in the life of Black Beauty or his fellow horses. Each chapter includes an important lesson about how mistreatment or, alternately, proper care affects the well-being and performance of the horses. The author conveys her lessons in a clear and entertaining manner through the voices of the horses themselves. This anthropomorphism might seem gimmicky or sentimental to some, but I think it works effectively to build the reader’s empathy. Except for the animal narration, the book is written in a realistic style. The death of animals from overwork or abuse is presented in a matter-of-fact way that never descends into mawkishness. It’s not lingered on because work must go on for the survivors. You’d have to be a stone not to be moved.
Also moving is the story of the author Anna Sewell. Disabled as a girl, her only way of getting out was riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Her many years of observing the treatment of horses on her trips around town and country led her to publish her observations and recommendations – all cleverly presented through the eyes of a horse.
I enjoyed reading “Black Beauty” very much. It’s a beautifully written tale with a noble purpose. There are many editions of “Black Beauty” on the market. I purchased the Signet Classics edition with the full original text by Anna Sewell and an introduction and afterword. I highly recommend it.
The Amazon page says it is for kids 9-12. That may have been so a generation ago, but now the vocabulary and historical references don't play out quite as well. In a well-structured class program, it could be a great lesson plan anchor to cover history, equines, medicine, weather and many other subject-matter for an all inclusive study. The best is the lessons of kindness. This is a lesson that covers all generations and all religions or philosophies. And we here it all from the horse's mouth. Animals understand kindness.
Peter Batchelor was the narrator in this version of the story. I was lucky to pick up the Kindle version from Kindle Unlimited and for a tiny fee I got the Whispersync Audible narration. He did a marvelous job bringing all the characters to life. I highly recommend that everyone read this classic!