Author: Anna Sewell
First Published: November 24, 1877
Reviewed By: Cristina
Black Beauty spends his youth in a loving home, surrounded by friends and cared for by his owners. But when circumstances change, he learns that not all humans are so kind. Passed from hand to hand, Black Beauty witnesses love and cruelty, wealth and poverty, friendship and hardship . . . Will the handsome horse ever find a happy and lasting home? Carefully retold in clear contemporary language, and presented with delightful illustrations, these favorite classic stories capture the heart and imagination of young readers.
Black Beauty is considered a “classic” in the children’s book world. Originally published in 1877, it has stood the test of time as a great book. Anna Sewell wrote the book as she was an invalid in her later years; she died only five months after publication. It was a huge success at the time and is still a very successful book–over 50 million copies sold! So what makes it so great? This:
Black Beauty is told from the horse’s point of view, and makes the reader think about animal rights, kindness between humans and animals, integrity, courage and love. Beauty’s life begins in a beautiful way, with a loving mother, a good human master, and other horse friends. As he grows up, he is sold to different masters–some kind, some not–and shares his experiences with the reader. When a person is reading Black Beauty, it is as if they are sitting under the apple tree with him, listening to him share his life story. He shares lessons he has learned along the way, ones that the reader can ponder on as well. There is a happy ending, but there is sorrow and loss on the way there–as in many true life stories.
I recommend this book for all ages with one caveat: there is cruelty to animals described, and death is very real in this book. Make sure your reader is mature enough to handle these discussions. With that said, is a great read aloud and discuss book with first and second graders, age appropriate for advanced third and fourth graders, and wonderful thinking content for fifth graders and up. In fact, I would encourage it to be read as a family book club selection!
Enjoy a classic. This one deserves the title.