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4.6 out of 5 stars214
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 January 2006
This book did for horses what Charles Dickens managed for workhouses, boarding schools and several other of the less laudable Victorian institutions. Like Dickens, it has survived the test of time and remains on most “Children's Classic” lists. Although there are plenty of horsy adventures for the hero, Sewell manages to avoid almost all of the traps of anthropomorphism and sickening sentimentality that infest most kids' books that touch upon matters equine. This book should however come with a warning: it can be quite brutal, as was the Victorian's treatment of working horses and, when I first read it as a child of six I found it harrowing and desperately upsetting (although it does have a reasonably happy ending). At 44, I still can't read it without a tear and a lumpy throat so this is probably not one for the nursery bookshelf; however, it remains on my list of essential reading for children. My eight-year-old son is studying Victorian history as his school project and has put down Harry Potter in favour of this; trying to prevent my six-year-old, horse-mad daughter from picking it up may prove problematical.
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on 19 May 2010
The title gives this buuk as "unabridged", but it is abridged and as I've already opened it I cannot send it back. Still Martin Jarvis is a very good reader and the abridgement seems to only cover discriptions which some children might find dull so it's probably still a good buy. I have however informed Amazon that their discription is incorrect.
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on 6 April 2009
For the sad fact is that it's as pertinent now, as it was back when it was produced by Anna Sewell as a "cry for help" for the horses of her time.

Do a bit of research ... how many horse and pony sancturies are in your country? Visit them (online or in person) and check out the state in which some of their residents arrive at that place of care and safety. It'll touch your heart.

The book itself is beautifully written, though perhaps not for the under 10's - for in places it'll bring tears to the eyes. It's interesting though - and A.S. has captured a horse's "take" on life with humans well. Indeed Black Beauty and his friends often show quite a touch of that "horse sense" we humans talk about! We are of course glad for Beauty that his own story has a happy ending, with him living out his old age in love and safekeeping. But for many horses, ponies, donkeys, it's not so - this is 2009, and that is a disgraceful fact.

As with all Collector's Library books, this is a compact size and a lovely presentation of the story, with occasional good quality line drawings. Well worth a place on your bookshelf - for all all ages to read, and learn from.
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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2009
Oh, this is such a sweet book and has left me sighing with satisfaction at the end.

I have never read Black Beauty until now. As a child I was never a girly girl and was never into horses or ponies at all and subsequently never had any desire to read this book. I wanted to read about The Famous Five solving crimes and having adventures.

I'm not even sure what made me pick this book up after all this time but I am so glad I did. The story itself is told by Black Beauty, a horse who is born to a kind family and trained to be a good working horse. He is then sold on and that is where he ends up in a series of backbreaking jobs. There are the baddies in this book and also the goodies, the kind, gentle owners who care for him and of course there are other horsey friends that Black Beauty makes along the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and has earned a place in my most-amazing-books shelf. It was such a sweet book and I'm so glad I read it after all this time. I would recommend to children and adults alike.
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on 20 November 2011
i seen the movie to this years ago and though it was sad it was quite good, the narrator of Black Beauty's voice was perfect, so when i read this book obviously that voice was transferred to the book.

the book is more in depth than the movie, and Beauty explains a lot more about how he felt in situations he was put in, the story also tells a bit about Ginger and Merry legs and also introduces characters that were left out of the movie. Anna Sewell does a grand job at questioning the resons of neglect and fashion through her human characters as much as the horses and makes for a enjoyed read.

i rate the novel 5 stars, i bought it from a second had book shop and it is a plain book cover with delicate pages this is one of the reasons i prefer to read books to kindles.
Anyway, the feel and size of this little book added to the wonderful read, such an old story in an old style really makes a difference and though unlike the movie the book did not make me cry i still felt that i enjoyed it just as much if not more so.
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VINE VOICEon 28 January 2013
Today critics consider Black Beauty to be overly sentimental and slightly patronising, an accusation often levelled at literature of the Victorian era. However in the 135 years since its publication, the book has sold over 30 million copies. It has earned a place in the hearts of animal lovers everywhere. Anna Sewell was a woman who demonstrated that there was strength in kindness and compassion, and that the written word could change the world.
A century after first publication, in 1977, it was rated the favourite book read by ten year olds. Although its popularity is waning, its classic status remains unshaken. The strength of the novel lies in the sincerity and passion with which Anna wrote it, with its good hearted, hard-working hero who makes it against all odds, and who is of course, a horse!
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on 9 November 2006
This book did for horses what Charles Dickens managed for workhouses, boarding schools and several other of the less laudable Victorian institutions. Like Dickens, it has survived the test of time and remains on most "Children's Classic" lists. Although there are plenty of horsy adventures for the hero, Sewell manages to avoid almost all of the traps of anthropomorphism and sickening sentimentality that infest most kids' books that touch upon matters equine. This book should however come with a warning: it can be quite brutal, as was the Victorian's treatment of working horses and, when I first read it as a child of six I found it harrowing and desperately upsetting (although it does have a reasonably happy ending). At 44, I still can't read it without a tear and a lumpy throat so this is probably not one for the nursery bookshelf; however, it remains on my list of essential reading for children. My eight-year-old son is studying Victorian history as his school project and has put down Harry Potter in favour of this; trying to prevent my six-year-old, horse-mad daughter from picking it up may prove problematical.
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Anna Sewell was crippled by polio as a girl, and lay near a window where she could watch the horses in the street. She became acutely aware of their working conditions and wrote Black Beauty to tell it from a horse's point of view. This coincided with compulsory education, so for the first time the working class children could read. They read this book to their parents and this raised awareness of the problems at the time, from overwork to a lack of drinking troughs on the streets, to the cruel bearing reins on carriage horses - including those driven by members of the RSPCA. The fact that working people were so dependent on their horses was another factor.

Black Beauty starts life on a farm with his mother Duchess where he is broken in and sold for hunting and carriage driving. He has a fine life but he and his friends Ginger and Merrylegs are sold when the family moves. Beauty and Ginger are sold together but poor Ginger has trouble accepting the tight bearing rein which holds her head high. She is sold off. A boy named Joe Green looks after Beauty at this time and sometimes gets his treatment wrong as he is only learning, so Beauty gets a chill and is very ill. Later in life Beauty becomes a cab horse and the London family are utterly dependent on him for a living. He works six days a week but some horses worked seven. The winter nights see Beauty standing outside a house where a card party is in place, waiting and waiting for their customer. Rich people gave no thought to anyone serving them.
Beauty is finally sold to be a carthorse and meets the worn-out Ginger one more time. He is expected to work until he drops, literally. But a chance meeting with Joe Green who recognises him after all these years by his markings, is enough to save him and he is brought to a kind home once more.
If ever a book deserved reading, this one does.

This has been filmed a few times and to my mind the best and most faithful treatment was the 1994 version directed by Caroline Thompson, starring Sean Bean (briefly) and David Thewlis. This includes a glimpse of 'Anna Sewell' at the very end. Another version starred Mark Lester.

The horse-mad Pullein-Thompson sisters wrote Black Beauty's Clan and Black Beauty's Family, each three tales of horses' lives. Phyliis Briggs also wrote Son of Black Beauty, about a gypsy's horse. Vian Smith referred to Black Beauty in his own homage to working horses he had known, called Parade of Horses (Carousel Books) printed in hardback as Horses In The Green Valley.
Anna Sewell's gravestone was destroyed to make space in the graveyard not many years ago.
A cartoon published in a national newspaper showed a child sitting reading Black Beauty. The caption was - "The monument to Anna Sewell that they cannot destroy."
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on 28 January 2012
I first read this book about sixty-five years ago, when my Father, who was in the Navy during the War, sent it to me
over the years this book was lost, but I remember it well, and had to get it for my Kindle to take me back all those years. It is a heart warming read,but a little disturbing in places, I love horses, I know it is only a story, but,
I cannot think of animals being abused in any way, This book is beautifully written, and I would recommend it to any child that is an animal lover.
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on 2 May 2012
My 12 year old daughter couldn't put this classic story down. It really captured her imagination even though she's seen the film many times, she absolutely loved it.
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