- Age Range: 9 and up
- Grade Level: 4 and up
- Lexile Measure: 1020 (What's this?)
- Series: Dover Children's Evergreen Classics
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications (June 23, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780486407883
- ISBN-13: 978-0486407883
- ASIN: 0486407888
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 634 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black Beauty (Dover Children's Evergreen Classics) Paperback – June 23, 1999
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From the Back Cover
Written as the animal's autobiography, and as an appeal for the humane treatment of horses, Anna Sewell's beloved classic reveals as much about human conduct and the social ills of the time as it does about the treatment of animals. Scenes from the lives of both the landed gentry and the impoverished working class offer a subtle but well-rounded perspective of social conditions in England during the late 19th century.
Unabridged Dover (1999) republication of a standard edition.
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634 customer reviews
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Definitely not worth the extra price! We thought we were getting a classic reprint but we got a weird mishmash of chapters. Very odd.
Told from the horse's point-of-view, Black Beauty describes his birth, early training and his fondness for his first master, Squire Gordon, stablemates Ginger and Merrylegs and grooms John and James.
For fashion's sake, some owners insisted the grooms harness the carriage horses with their head's held high with the check rein. This made it difficult for the team to pull as well as caused other long term problems. Squire Gordon was against such devices.
When James plans on moving on, little Joe Green is trained for his position. The young boy makes a grave error in Beauty's care after the horse is ridden hard to fetch the doctor for the mistress, and the doc rides him hard back. Beauty survives the incident, but when the mistress needs to move due to her illness, all the horses must be sold.
After that, Beauty describes his life with various owners. Some are ignorant, some cruel but a handful give him the best care they can including a cab driver. Life is hard, and the author gives details of the cruelty of some grooms, drivers and owners.
At least Sewell gives the story a happy ending.
I first read this as a teen, before I took riding lessons. Looking back, I think Sewell's insight helped me decide my path on my journey to becoming a professional horsewoman.
I would recommend this book for all horse lovers except the very young.
One interesting aspect of the story is it's narrated by Black Beauty himself, so we get to see the world from the horse's point of view...and we don't come off well in many aspects.
The story is fun on its own terms, but it also teaches consideration for all life, compassion for animals, and how important love and respect are in this world. Any child who hears this story and takes it to heart will become a better adult.
"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.