Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This summary of the Black Beauty story is profusely illustrated with full-color drawings of horses, clothing, and artifacts of Victorian England. An introduction explains the context of the story and its impact on the care and treatment of horses. Ten short chapters follow, carefully capturing the essence of the original book. Sidebars feature photographs and illustrations with descriptions of words and terms that may not be familiar to young readers. A glossary in the back contributes to further understanding. Some biographical information about Sewell is included. This is a good introduction to both the study of horses and the enjoyment of horse stories. 2000, DK, Ages 7 to 10, $12.95 and $3.95. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer
The historical sidebars in Black Beauty mostly deal with what English life in the nineteenth century was like, but a few specifically deal with horses. They can be distracting if you're trying to follow the story. Unless you're really interested in details of that time period, don't think that this book is any better than another version, although the illustrations might make it easier for younger readers to enjoy, $17.99 Trade pb. Illus. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Viking/Penguin Putnam, 208p, $25.99. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Kristen Moreland, Teen Reviewer SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Anna Sewell's classic novel begins with Black Beauty's early days as a colt at his mother's side and follows him through each of his masters and jobs. It is written in a charmingly sophisticated voice that is easier for listeners to understand than to read; the language, tone, and sentence structure are a bit antiquated, suiting the time period in which the story was first published in 1877. Moral lessons are abundant in this tale told from the horse's point of view. A great deal of information about the nature and abilities of horses is imparted in a surprisingly grim first person narrative. The casual cruelty of man toward beast is expounded throughout the captivating story. Each character, man or horse, is compellingly and earnestly voiced by narrator Simon Vance. Sure to be popular with horse lovers.-Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“No animal narrative captures the complexity of Victorian relations with animals better than Black Beauty. This edition offers an invaluable introduction to the novel and the burgeoning field of Victorian animal studies. In addition, Guest’s excerpts of primary documents plunge readers into the physical, material, and affective conditions not only of domestic animals, but also of the authors and advocates who longed to understand and protect them.” Teresa Mangum, University of Iowa
“Students, as well as the growing number of literary scholars working in animal studies, will benefit immensely from this edition. Guest places the novel in the context of disparate, but overlapping, discourses in Victorian England: animal rights and anti-vivisection, scientific analyses of animal emotion, industrial discourse that linked horses with machines, and the sentimental novel. By locating the novel within a complicated cultural milieu, Guest defends the work from those who might dismiss it as a didactic tale for children. Her final note tying the cruelty suffered by animals in this text with the ongoing mistreatment of animals in our culture demonstrates just how relevant Sewell’s text remains today.” Monica Flegel, Lakehead University
Read an Excerpt
My Early Home
The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside. At the top of the meadow was a plantation of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.
While I was young I lived upon my mother's milk, as I could not eat grass. In the daytime I ran by her side, and at night I lay down close by her. When it was hot we used to stand by the pond in the shade of the trees, and when it was cold we had a nice warm shed near the plantation.
As soon as I was old enough to eat grass, my mother used to go out to work in the daytime and come back in the evening.
There were six young colts in the meadow besides me. They were older than I was; some were nearly as large as grown-up horses. I used to run with them, and had great fun; we used to gallop all together round and round the field, as hard as we could go. Sometimes we had rather rough play, for they would frequently bite and kick as well as gallop.
One day, when there was a good deal of kicking, my mother whinnied to me to come to her, and then she said:
"I wish you to pay attention to what I am going to say to you. The colts who live here are very good colts, but they are carthorse colts and, of course, they have not learned manners. You have been well bred and well born; your father has a great name in these parts, and your grandfather won the cup two years at the Newmarket races. Yourgrandmother had the sweetest temper of any horse I ever knew, and I think you have never seen me kick or bite. I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play."
I have never forgotten my mother's advice. I knew she was a wise old horse, and our master thought a great deal of her. Her name was Duchess, but he often called her Pet.
Our master was a good, kind man. He gave us good food, good lodging, and kind words; he spoke as kindly to us as he did to his little children. We were all fond of him, and my mother loved him very much. When she saw him at the gate, she would neigh with joy, and trot up to him. He would pat and stroke her and say, "Well, old Pet, and how is your little Darkie?" I was a dull black, so he called me Darkie, then he would give me a piece of bread, which was very good, and sometimes he brought a carrot for my mother. All the horses would come to him, but I think we were his favorites. My mother always took him to the town on a market day in a light gig.
There was a plowboy, Dick, who sometimes came into our field to pluck blackberries from the hedge. When he had eaten all he wanted, he would have what he called fun with the colts, throwing stones and sticks at them to make them gallop. We did not much mind him, for we could gallop off, but sometimes a stone would hit and hurt us.
One day he was at this game and did not know that the master was in the next field, but he was there, watching what was going on. Over the hedge he jumped in a snap, and catching Dick by the arm, he gave him such a box on the ear as made him roar with the pain and surprise. As soon as we saw the master, we trotted up nearer to see what went on.
"Bad boy!" he said. "Bad boy to chase the colts! This is not the first time, nor the second, but it shall be the last. Theretake your money and go home. I shall not want you on my farm again." So we never saw Dick anymore. Old Daniel, the man who looked after the horses, was just as gentle as our master, so we were well off.
I was two years old when a circumstance happened which I have never forgotten. It was early in the spring; there had been a little frost in the night, and a light mist still hung over the plantations and meadows. I and the other colts were feeding at the lower part of the field when we heard, quite in the distance, what sounded like the cry of dogs. The oldest of the colts raised his head, pricked his ears, and said, "There are the hounds!" and immediately cantered off, followed by the rest of us to the upper part of the field, where we could look over the hedge and see several fields beyond. My mother and an old riding horse of our master's were also standing near, and seemed to know all about it.
"They have found a hare," said my mother, "and if they come this way we shall see the hunt."
And soon the dogs were all tearing down the field of young wheat next to ours. I never heard such a noise as they made. They did not bark, nor howl, nor whine, but kept on a "yo! yo, o, o! yo! yo, o, o!" at the top of their voices. After them came a number of men on horseback, some of them in green coats, all galloping as fast as they could. The old horse snorted and looked eagerly after them, and we young colts wanted to be galloping with them, but they were soon away into the fields lower down. Here it seemed as if they had come to a stand; the dogs left off barking and ran about every way with their noses to the ground.
From the Hardcover edition.