Friday, May 22, 2009

Black Beauty

Title: Black Beauty
Author: Anna Sewell
Genre: Juvenile, Classic
Pages: 207
Published: 1877
Date Finished: 16 April 2009
My Rating: 2 Stars
Challenges: 100+, Library, New Author, Decades, Classics, Victorian, Spring, Daring Girls

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. I can only take so many cliches in one book.


Kylee said...

You have reminded me of this wonderful book. I want to re-read it again now for our site that combines good children's books with fun things for the family to do. loved your blog. You might be interested in our site
Happy Reading!

Jules said...

Just stopping by to say hello, and that I've left you an award at my blog. Just go to the link to get it.

Alyce said...

I hated this story when I read it as a kid. I was horrified by the treatment that the horses received. Also, I was not at all into horses as a kid, so that may have had something to do with it. There are very few stories narrated by animals that I've liked. Although I really did like The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

Last month I read the Black Stallion and I have Black Beauty to read this year as well. I love visiting childhood stories.