Black Beauty

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Black Beauty The Autobiography of a Horse Anna Sewell Black Beauty is an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. It was composed in the last years of her life, during which she remained in her house as an invalid. The novel became an immediate best-seller, with Sewell dying just five months after its publication, but having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success. With fifty million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time.

The story is narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by the titular horse named Black Beauty—beginning with his carefree days as a colt on an English farm with his mother, to his difficult life pulling cabs in London, to his happy retirement in the country. Along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness.

Black Beauty" is an autobiographical memoir told by the horse who gives the book its name that starts with the horse's whimsical days as a young colt before moving on toward tough times hauling cabs in London and ending with a peaceful rest in the country. Each phase of his story brings him many stories of compassion, but he also gives many accounts of cruelty. The chapters each have a lesson inside them that relates to the sympathetic and insightful ways that people ought to behave."

"The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water."

MrsK's Review: This story is unfolds as a personal narrative of Black Beauty. Beauty retells his story from the beginning unto his final resting grounds. As a horse, there are many experiences with humans, with masters, and with other horses and their individual temperaments, dispositions, and mettle. Ginger has never known a kind master or an inclusion within a herd. Merrylegs would never cause grief for his owners. He feels loyalty, kindness, and compassion makes for good care, good placement, and good horses. Old Captain provides the "wisdom of the ages," for he becomes the teacher and the good friend that Beauty seeks counsel.

Every chapter can be a discovery of a life lesson. Every detail creatively weaves scenarios in which the reader becomes so engaged that one forgets that Beauty is a horse. Each character is so well faceted as mini-biographical threads entwined within Beauty's retelling, as a reader you recognize them as personal friends, acquaintances, or foes. If you are a reader of animal fantasy or have never given yourself the gift of reading a story written with an animal perspective... this is the one classic tale that you should experience.

There was a time in which I read so many horse books that I missed other great stories. Yet, this novel was one of my favorite titles for my classroom. Our discussions were filled with insights about humanity, real-life personal connections, and the truth behind loyalty and kindness. When my students watched the movie, well I have never heard such disappointment surrounding a missing scene!

Into the heart of a reader, there are characters that will never be forgotten.

258 pages  Ages 8 and up  978-0192727985

Recommended by:  Kim Shealy, TeacherLibrarian/Reading Specialist Florida USA

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From the publisher (Oxford Classics):

One of the first and still one of the best-loved animal stories, Black Beauty was first published in 1877, just a few months before author Anna Sewell's death. Told in the first person, it is the autobiography of a horse, narrated by Black Beauty himself. From his simple beginnings under the shady trees in the meadow, Black Beauty's life takes many twists and turns--from a riding horse on a country estate to a cruelly mistreated cab horse on the busy streets of London, to his final years in happy retirement in the country. Black Beauty has many owners, some of whom treat him badly, but throughout it all he keeps his sweet temper and fine spirit.

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