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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) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–While better written than most abridged versions, these adaptations sacrifice character and theme development through simplified retellings of the basic plots or action. In Black Beauty, Church has reduced the original 49 chapters to 21 by combining the sequence and action into simpler accounts. Sasaki has reworked six of the Sherlock Holmes stories to maintain the mystery and solution minus Holmes's roundabout explanations of deduction. The books include lists of questions for discussion. The generously spaced, large-type format, interspersed with occasional black-and-white drawings, may serve as an introduction or starter as the series intends. However, waiting for the right read-aloud setting combined with discussion of the original is the best way to include the classics in any child's literary experience.–Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 361 reviews
79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
A Memorable Children's Novel with Important Values Jan. 29 2004
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
We often talk about teaching children values, but in most cases children's literature is insipid and of no lasting value. BLACK BEAUTY, however, is both valuable as art and valuable for the virtues it teaches: kindness, common sense, and helping those who cannot help themselves. The book is well written in clean prose. It does not over reach the "reading child," nor does it talk down to him. And although it is touching and occasionally sad, it is not in the least sentimental.
The story, of course, is about Black Beauty, a handsome horse who is born and raised in happy circumstances. But in Victorian England horses were used much as we use cars today: they were things to be bought and sold and then gotten rid of when they were no longer useful. Black Beauty is first sold to a good home, but as time passes he is sold again and again--and not always to people who treat him kindly or even to those who give him common care.
There are adventures aplenty, like a stable fire and a dangerous bridge; there are many memorable characters, like the horse Ginger and the kind cabbie Jerry. All of them are seen from Black Beauty's point of view, and beautifully, perfectly described. My mother read this book to me, and as soon as I could I was anxious to read it myself; now, some thirty years later I have stumbled once more upon it. And I can honestly say that it lives up to my memory: it is a fine book, and one that every parent should place in the hands of their children. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
There Is No Better Book for Teaching Kindness Aug. 5 2009
By L. Gildart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful chapter book for a child who is reading at around a 5th grade level to read alone. Black Beauty is a classic. We all know that it tells the life story of an English riding horse from his own point of view. What can be harder to remember is how deftly it teaches children about the importance of kindness to their fellow creatures.

During the course of his lifetime, Beauty experiences the best and the worst humanity has to offer its companion animals. Children old enough to read this book will just be developing the kind of empathy skills necessary to understand how important kindness is, even, and perhaps especially, to those who cannot verbalize their gratitude.

The book teaches kids to notice how they and their peers treat others, and I have been buying it for all of the kids in my life for as long as I can remember.

I particularly like this edition because it is unabridged (the story is perfect), and because the illustrations are enchanting. I'd give it a hundred stars if I could.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
I was really sad to see this. Can't we do better? June 23 2007
By A. Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Being a typical horse-loving 10 year old girl (way, way back in the day..), it almost goes without saying that of course I read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. The story of the gentle black horse in Victorian England is simple and perfect. It's a true classic for kids, proven over several generations that have grown up reading it just as I did. With this in mind, I went looking to buy a copy at a bookstore yesterday as a birthday present for a 10 year old young lady.

Now as far as I know, kids today are no less intelligent, and they do still teach them to read starting in Kindergarten. So imagine my horror at discovering that the attractively bound, hardback of Black Beauty that I picked up was, uh, *paraphrased* (actually there are more accurate terms for it, but for the sake of the Amazon censors I'd better stick to the less graphic ones). Comparing selections of this version side by side with the original, the so-called "Classic Starts" Black Beauty plot is stripped down; worse, the lovely language of the original has been replaced with, ahem, simplified text and dialog that could have been written by the author of the Judy Moody books. This left little sense of the turn of the century England setting, and completely obliterated the spirit and style of Anna Sewell. Is this the publisher's idea of a quality introduction to children's lit?

What I really want to know is, why change it at all? As I said, kids today aren't less smart, they should be able to read the real Black Beauty well enough by the time they are in the 9-12 suggested age range. The reason it's a classic is because IT WORKED JUST AS IT WAS. Sorry, I had to put that in large type for the publishers, who evidently believe that the rest of the population matches their literary fluency.

I hope other parents who are planning on purchasing this and other classics for their kids will catch the difference between the CS paraphrased/heavily edited/oh what the heck, dumbed down versions and the real books. Apparently the School Library Journal agrees with me on this, if you care to read their review above the customer reviews on the product page.
-Andrea, aka Merribelle
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
A BEAUTIFUL BOOK,,,, May 14 2000
By appaloosa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Since pictures & illustrations are as much a part of a child's imagination as the written word, then this book beautifully combines both, with the abundant B&W line illustrations by illustrator Lucy Kemp-Welch, in addition to the 12 colour plates included - all in keeping with the time period this novel is set in. A wonderful edition to any child's library.
I've been reading horse-topic related books for as long as I can remember; but the very 1st horse story that left an indelible impression on me was ANNA SEWELL's " BLACK BEAUTY ".
It really openend my eyes as to the abuse and cruelty - and majestic fraility - that these wonderful creatures suffer at the hands of their human counterparts.
Ms Sewell opted to write this book from " the horse's point of view " and she was one of the very few authors that was able to pull this off with such great success.
This book also, laid the cornerstone for the ASPCA aims and goals, and brought to light the conditions and treatment of working horses in 20th century London, England ( and elsewhere ).
The story is such a wonderful tale of a horse's life from start to finish; told with a quiet dignity and warmth - and serves as a successful analogy also, as to how humans should interact with one another.
This book also laid the cornerstone for my interest and love of horses, and further spurred my interest in reading about all things Equine.
From there, and I went on to read all of Walter Farley's "The Black Stallion" series ( I used to collect the hardcover editions), and Marguerite Henry's books, and National Velvet(which really wasn't about a horse per se, but more about a little girl who's dreams come true), and anything else I could get my horsey-hungry hands on!
I now keep a copy of Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty" in my library at home, and have given a copy to my daughter to read.
This is a tale that sensitizes the reader to the plight of horses at the hands of their human caregivers, trainers, etc - all told from the horse's mouth ( so to speak )..!
And lest we think that the inhumane treatment of horses has abided since this book was written - one only has to follow the controversy surrounding the use of "Premarin", or abusive training methods of gaited horses, or the Thoroughbred racing industry, or rodeo...etc.
There is still much to be gleaned about the exploitation and abuse of animals from this book - which will always remain a timeless classic.
Kim C. Montreal, 05/2000
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The First Animal Rights Book... May 3 2002
By Wendy Kaplan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Because it is a well-known classic and a children's perennial favorite, many people do not realize that "Black Beauty" is an impassioned plea for animal rights, written at a time when such a notion was dismissed as ridiculous. And because it is what it is, sensitive children may need a parent to explain that, thankfully, most of the abuses described in the book are long gone, thanks in part to crusaders like Anna Sewell.
In a story that takes place in 19th century England, a gorgeous glossy black colt, who comes to be known as Black Beauty, is born into a life of comfort and kindness. His life is a kind of horsey paradise, until the fortunes of his owners turn...and Black Beauty is sold.
Sold to a cruel owner as a cab horse, Beauty is now treated as so many hapless animals were in his day...he is virtually tortured. He is in constant pain. His knees are sore. He is made to wear a "check rein," a device that no longer exists, but which scares me to this day because of the impression its description made upon me as a child. It was a type of rein that forced the horse to keep his head up extremely high at an unnatural angle, the more to look "elegant." The pain that this rein inflicts upon Beauty is heartbreaking, and it did indeed break my heart to read it.
Along the way, Beauty meets other horses, and keeps a lifelong friend, Ginger, who also suffers. Everything comes out alright in the end, in a story that is so tender and yet meaningful at the same time, that it is a shame it is relegated by reputation to the backwaters of so-called "children's literature." It was pure muckracking, in the style of the great American muckrakers who came shortly thereafter. Will a child realize this? It's hard to know, but I know that as a child I was simply haunted by the described cruelty to this horse. And of course heartened by the ending. But I have to say that, many decades later, some of the cruelty in this book still upsets me.
Therefore, I recommend the book with a caveat: If you have a particularly sensitive or thoughtful child, please warn him or her that Black Beauty is mistreated in the story, but that because of the book, and others like it, such mistreatment of animals no longer exists. And then let your child enjoy the sheer wealth of detail in what really is, in the end, a beautiful story.


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