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The Jungle (Enriched Classics) Mass Market Paperback – Special Edition, May 1, 2004
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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About the Author
Upton Sinclair was born in Baltimore in September 1878. His father moved the family to New York City in 1888. Although his own family was extremely poor, he spent periods of time living with his wealthy grandparents. He later argued that witnessing these extremes turned him into a socialist. Sinclair funded his college education by writing stories for newspapers and magazines. Sinclair’s first novel was published in 1901. Sinclair was extremely active in socialist politics throughout his life. His novel Dragon’s Teeth (1942) on the rise of Nazism won him the Pulitzer Prize. By the time Upton Sinclair died in 1968, he had published more than ninety books.
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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.
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.