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Friday, May 22, 2009

Black Beauty

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, published 1877

I know this book is a much beloved children's classic and, in fact, that is why I picked it up. I was never a horse crazy girl and never had any interest in reading a book narrated by a horse but I've decided to read some of the classic children's books I overlooked when I was younger.
I had a difficult time with this one. Oh, it was an easy read, it was just hard to read it without rolling my eyes or making snarky comments. I have to wonder if any other 200 page book could be filled with so much cliched moralizing? Sure, the author is conveying good messages, be nice to animals, don't be a drunk etc but boy is it just shoved down your throat.
While I found this book less than enjoyable I realize that the moralizing is really par for the course in much Victorian literature and do have to give credit to the work and the author for breaking literary ground at the time it was published. Sewell tackled a contemporary issue in a unique way, the horse narrating his own story, and was able to be a catalyst for change. The story of horses being abused by their owners brought to people's attention the need for laws that would protect these animals from harsh and abusive treatment.
So, my kudos to the author for her ability to bring about improvements and changes but that did not translate into this 1877 children's novel being an enjoyable read for me today.



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Ruth @ Bookish Ruth

My fourth grade teacher read this book aloud in class, and I remember that I loved it. I don't know if I would enjoy it as much now. My teacher incorporated lessons on animal cruelty and helped the class cultivate a sense of moral fairness by illustrating how unfairly Black Beauty was treated. It was pretty thought-provoking stuff for a group of 8 and 9 year olds.

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