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Black Beauty (Children's Classics) Hardcover – September 22, 1998
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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)"
From the Inside Flap
Here is the compelling tale of a spirited young Thoroughbred that captured the hearts of readers throughout Victorian England when it was first published in 1877. This masterfully illustrated classic is skillfully adapted by Newbery Award-winning author Robin McKinley and remains faithful to the original. With simple text to read aloud to young children, it's little wonder that The Boston Globe says it is "certain to quicken the hearts of young horse lovers." A timeless tale of courage, hope, and strength guaranteed to delight a new generation of readers.
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"You are a very good man," said James. "I wish I may ever be like you."
"I don't often speak of myself," said John, "but as you are going away from us out into the world to shift for yourself I'll just tell you how I look on these things. I was just as old as Joseph when my father and mother died of the fever within ten days of each other, and left me and my cripple sister Nelly alone in the world, without a relation that we could look to for help. I was a farmer's boy, not earning enough to keep myself, much less both of us, and she must have gone to the workhouse but for our mistress (Nelly calls her her angel, and she has good right to do so). She went and hired a room for her with old Widow Mallet, and she gave her knitting and needlework when she was able to do it; and when she was ill she sent her dinners and many nice, comfortable things, and was like a mother to her. Then the master he took me into the stable under old Norman, the coachman that was then. I had my food at the house and my bed in the loft, and a suit of clothes, and three shillings a week, so that I could help Nelly. Then there was Norman; he might have turned round and said at his age he could not be troubled with a raw boy from the plow-tail, but he was like a father to me, and took no end of pains with me. When the old man died some years after I stepped into his place, and now of course I have top wages, and can lay by for a rainy day or a sunny day, as it may happen, and Nelly is as happy as a bird. So you see, James, I am not the man that should turn up his nose at a little boy and vex a good, kind master. No, no! I shall miss you very much, James, but we shall pull through, and there's nothing like doing a kindness when 'tis put in your way, and I am glad I can do it."
"Then," said James, "you don't hold with that saying, `Everybody look after himself, and take care of number one'?"
"No, indeed," said John, "where should I and Nelly have been if master and mistress and old Norman had only taken care of number one? Why, she in the workhouse and I hoeing turnips! Where would Black Beauty and Ginger have been if you had only thought of number one? why, roasted to death! No, Jim, no! that is a selfish, heathenish saying, whoever uses it; and any man who thinks he has nothing to do but take care of number one, why, it's a pity but what he had been drowned like a puppy or a kitten, before he got his eyes open; that's what I think," said John, with a very decided jerk of his head.
I won't bore you with all the historic significance of this novel, except that it turned many mind towards the well being of their animals and laws to be introduced for their health. Anna Sewell only book changed the world, alike to Charles Dickens 'Oliver Twist' to child labor, or Charlotte Brontë's 'Shirley' to feminism and the "women-question."
And any adult can enjoy Black Beauty, it is not a children's book but a masterpiece published to sway those who handled horses: "a special aim [was] to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses" - Anna Sewell. Also, a good companion to the unabridged classic is Warner Bros 1994 film starring Sean Bean (James Bond: Golden Eye, Game of Thrones), Andrew Knot (The Secret Garden), and David Thewlis (Harry Potter as Professor Lupin, Fargo), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey, Knightfall). It follows the book pretty well, with a few deviations (that I will not spoil for you).
Concerning the Scholastic Classics 2001 Edition, each chapter contain a lovely, detailed image with a few, smaller images here and there throughout the novel. Growing-up with this edition I felt the need to re-purchase it after losing my original copy. This edition is unabridged and has a green cover with an introduction by Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted.