Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Who is Black Beauty?
Black Beauty is a highbred horse around whose life the author has woven this very beautiful and warm book for the children. It is presented as a first person autobiography narration of a horse. The book is set in the 19th century and describes the life of Black Beauty from since it was a colt to around his 15th year.
Black Beauty was brought up with lot of love and care. It grows to be an extremely well tempered horse which does not spare any efforts from its side.Black Beauty opens with its main character describing his first memory as that of a "pleasant meadow." The reader is told about his life as a colt, his mother''s advice on how to behave as a well-bred horse, and his master''s kind care.
When Black Beauty is two, he witnesses the brutality of a hunt for a hare and the tragedy of one of the riders being killed in a fall from his horse. At age four, Black Beauty is broken in to the use of the saddle, bridle, and carriage harness. He describes how bad the bit feels as well as getting his first shoes.
Then he is sent to a neighbour’s pasture near a railroad to get used to the sounds he might hear when out on the road and is thus prepared to start work. Showing the range of uses for horses during this period, Black Beauty works as a saddle and carriage horse on a wealthy country estate, is rented as a beast of burden from a livery stable, pulls a cab, and draws a cart through the crowded London streets. The frequent changes in setting provide a good overview of British life during this era.
In the narration along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness. The reader rejoices and feels sad alongside Black Beauty. Each short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beauty''s life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses.
Written during a major period of growth in the movement for humane treatment of animals, Black Beauty became the work that represented the movement. Humane societies across the United States bought and distributed thousands of copies of the book, espousing animal rights.
This is Anna Sewell''s only book, having been finished only few months before she died. She wanted the book to especially induce kindness, sympathy, and humane treatment of horses amongst its readers".
In my humble opinion she has bee very successful. The book is actually more than just a "love horses" manifesto. It also contains pointers to ethical issues of right and wrong, helping others or taking a stand where cruelty is involved. It entwines a few lessons for life into its story about a horse.
The book has been adapted into films in 1921, 1946, 1971 and 1994 under the name Black Beauty
and as a TV series as The Adventures of Black Beauty
Additionally, in 1966 Walt Disney Productions produced an LP adaptation on its Disneyland Records label with music by Disney''s musical director at the time, Tutti Camarata, complete with narration similar to an old time radio programs.
This book is a must read for any child.