black beauty review

Black Beauty: Surprise! Black Beauty is a Boy?

Okay the title of this blog post actually has nothing to do with the review, but I thought it might encourage you to read it. Did it work? Anyway, let me tell you how to turn me off from a book: Call it “Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse.” I can’t even type that without laughing out loud because it sounds so dorky. I really had zero interest in reading this book, because a) I’m not a huge horse person (they scare me, and vet school was enough torture thank you very much), and b) I don’t really like books narrated by animals. Buuuttt I’ve been trying to get through all my children’s classics, and this one came highly recommended by some friends, so I decided to listen to the audiobook.

Black Beauty: Surprise! Black Beauty is a Boy?Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Published by Puffin Classics on November 24th 1877
Genres: Historical Fiction, Children's Classic
Pages: 245
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Length: 5 hours, 21 minutes
Format: Audiobook

A horse is a horse of course unless of course the horse is Black Beauty. Animal-loving children have been devoted to Black Beauty throughout this century, and no doubt will continue through the next. Although Anna Sewell's classic paints a clear picture of turn-of-the-century London, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.Black Beauty tells the story of the horse's own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse. Throughout, Sewell rails - in a gentle, 19th-century way - against animal maltreatment. Young readers will follow Black Beauty's fortunes, good and bad, with gentle masters as well as cruel. Children can easily make the leap from horse-human relationships to human-human relationships, and begin to understand how their own consideration of others may be a benefit to all.

Why I Enjoyed Black Beauty:

1. The excitement of reading a well-loved classic for the first time cannot be underestimated. Not only is it fun to finally be able to say you’ve read the book, too, but it’s also fun to uncover all these things people have known all along. In this book, the biggest surprise for me was finding out that Black Beauty was a boy. I mean, what? Who names their male horse Black Beauty? But whatever, I guess that’s beside the point. Most of you out there already knew this fact. I found it mind-blowing. 

2. In all seriousness, this book was written with an unexpected sophistication. I thought reading a book from a horse’s perspective was going to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life (LOLZ, dramatic much?), but Sewell did an excellent job. From the very first sentence, you’re seeing world from the eyes of a gentle creature, and it’s beautiful. 

3. The narrator of the audiobook, Ralph Cosham, was fantastic! He really classed the whole story up, too. Perhaps it is thanks to him that I enjoyed this story so much. I would encourage you to consider listening to the audiobook narrated by him if you haven’t yet.

4. The anthropomorphizer in me appreciated Sewell’s observations. Seriously as a vet I feel like half of my job is trying to envision and assume what an animal is feeling. How else can I convey the importance of diagnostics and specific care without explaining to owners that this is painfulthis is scary, etc. Sewell did such a believable job with that in horses. It actually made me appreciate their role in our life even more.

I encourage any animal person to consider reading this novel if you haven’t yet. It’s definitely a lot more poignant and sophisticated than you would expect!

What’s your favorite animal story?

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  1. I loved this book when I read it in fourth grade. I think it might be more suited to a child’s (or a vet’s) sensibilities, even if the Vet isn’t a horse person. (I thought all little girls were horse persons!) Since you enjoyed it despite the animal narrative, you might also enjoy “Poor Joe,” a story told through a dog’s perspective. Basically, same story line — good dog is mistreated. However, after a search in Amazon, I can’t find “Poor Joe.” It must be out of print. I also read that in fourth grade…a long, long time ago.

  2. Haha I wanted to read this because I LOVE HORSES! They’re the best animal 😛 I also loved the movie as a kid (when watching it I thought Beauty reunited with Merry Legs and Ginger IRL at the end, not realising it was a dream sequence/ heaven so you can imagine my devastation when reading the book)

    1. Awwww yes I can only imagine how sad that would be. Maybe they left it vague for the little kiddies so they didn’t get their delicate sensibilities hurt! XD