Black Diamond and Blakeby Deborah Blumenthal, Miles Hyman
Black Diamond was the fastest, the best. After every race he’d stand with a wreath around his neck while cameras clicked and smiling people called him champ. But when he stumbles and hurts his leg, all that vanishes. Black Diamond’s new home has high walls topped with razor wire, and the men who live there are called prisoners. Will anyone in this
Black Diamond was the fastest, the best. After every race he’d stand with a wreath around his neck while cameras clicked and smiling people called him champ. But when he stumbles and hurts his leg, all that vanishes. Black Diamond’s new home has high walls topped with razor wire, and the men who live there are called prisoners. Will anyone in this strange new place think he’s the best, treat him like a champ?
In this tender friendship story, the author draws on real-life programs that teach inmates to take care of horses and other animals. Young readers who enjoy both the thrill of horseracing and the special bond between humans and horses will find much to savor within this richly illustrated, profoundly moving tale.
Deborah Blumenthal and her husband, Ralph Blumenthal, live with their children in New York City.
Miles Hyman’s rich, painterly art has appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Family Circle, and on hundreds of book covers.
Black Diamond, a prize racehorse, is sold to a prison horse-care program after he is injured and can no longer compete. He feels abandoned by the human family he has always worked to please, but he gets a second chance at happiness when he meets Blake, the inmate chosen to care for him through the rehabilitation program. The two form a close bond, but then Blake finishes his sentence and Black Diamond's care is given over to two insensitive inmates. "For days, weeks, and months, Black Diamond looked for Blake." Just when the horse has given up hope, the man returns with enough money to purchase him and take him home. Beautiful dry pastel illustrations in warm tones harken back to a time of Art Deco, the Golden Age of cinema, and WPA murals. Told from the perspective of Black Diamond, the sensitive story sometimes borders on sentimentalism, but it is genuinely moving, so these moments are easy to forgive. This unique tale, distinctly set in the past and based on actual contemporary work-rescue programs, offers children a vision of hope for the discarded animals and humans of our society.-Madeline Walton-Hadlock, San Jose Public Library, CA
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BLACK DIAMOND & BLAKE is a beautiful story of trust and friendship. Black Diamond is a champion racehorse. He receives treats, praises, cheers, and flowers after his many wins. He runs his heart out for his racetrack family. Each race he vows to win for them. He loses his first race, by just a little, and receives no praise or cheers. After he stumbles in another race and hurts his leg, he hears "Boo" from the audience and is left alone. After that race, a man, stinking of smoke, comes and buys Black Diamond. Black Diamond is nervous until a soft voice leads him to the horse trailer, saying he's going home. But Black Diamond is home - and he doesn't know what is happening to his world. Black Diamond finds himself behind prison walls, literally. For him, it's truly a prison...he's used to running free. He has become part of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The Foundation rescues retired racehorses and pairs them with prisons to help develop bonds between the horses and the inmates. Black Diamond is reserved and hesitant until an inmate, Blake, befriends him. They spend time together every day, but when Blake is released, Black Diamond is worse off than before. It's only when Blake comes back for him that Black Diamond truly find his home. I found BLACK DIAMOND & BLAKE a bit sad, so overly-sensitive children may be upset by the story if they don't make it to the happy ending. But the bond that Black Diamond and Blake form is truly special, and the story will leave you feeling loved and treasured by the last page. Ms. Blumenthal presents the information about a true foundation in a unique perspective, one that children will come to love and will want to read about over and over again.