Anna Sewell: Black Beauty

Here is the compelling tale of a spirited young Thoroughbred that captured the hearts of readers throughout Victorian England when it was first published in 1877. This masterfully illustrated classic is skillfully adapted by Newbery Award-winning author Robin McKinley and remains faithful to the original. With simple text to read aloud to young children, it’s little wonder that “The Boston Globe” says it is “certain to quicken the hearts of young horse lovers.” A timeless tale of courage, hope, and strength guaranteed to delight a new generation of readers.

Oh how I loved horses when I was young. I grew up in rural Indiana, and while my dad had a strict “crops only” policy for our farm, I was so determined that our old barn was MADE for beasts. It even had STALLS, Dad–or what was left of them. My bus driver had a horse, and as she lived just down the road from me, let me ride it sometimes. I thought I was Velvet riding The Piebald.

So many of my favorite books growing up were about horses, and far and away the one I read the most was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I basically had that book memorized, and when I saw not one, but two, gorgeous vintage copies at a book sale recently, I bought them both! It was time to reread my favorite childhood horse story…delicately.

Black Beauty was just as I remembered–and I still have it memorized. There wasn’t one moment that I had forgotten. The only thing that has changed is that now I understand the themes a little better.

This is very much a children’s story, so it’s simple, sweet, and has a happy ending. The main character and narrator, Beauty himself, is sweet and kind and gentle–as a child’s horse should be. The themes of this book are about how to treat man and beast with respect, don’t drink to excess, and always practice what you preach. You can learn a lot from this steady black horse, and I love seeing that my beloved favorite still holds up after so many years.

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