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Children’s Books That Inspire Me: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
It was one of the first books I read by myself once I was old enough to do so, and though I can remember enjoying it, I can certainly say that at the time I had no idea what it was really about. Black Beauty, like most classical literature, is often grouped into the children’s genre and I cannot really understand why. The book was not written for children; Sewell wrote it as means of helping readers to understand the torment that horses underwent in the Victorian Era, and while readers sympathized with the character of Black Beauty and the book revolutionized the way many Victorians treated their horses, the book became marketed as a children’s story. Of course Black Beauty can be read by children, and what young child obsessed with the idea of having her own pony doesn’t want to read a story of a horse who is saved from torture, but there are lessons in Black Beauty beyond just being good to animals that might be lost on a younger audience. There is a deeper meaning to the text which is missed by the average nine-year-old. To a young child, it’s nothing more than a very good story with a moral, but to the adult it’s an exquisite tale of cruelty, abuse, redemption, and the power of true friendship. It tells the story of Black Beauty, a carefree colt who is bought, sold, and traded several times over the course of his life. He is called by many names and is many different things to his various owners: a cab driver, a conveyer, a steed, sometimes a friend, and other times a mere beast of burden, but always valuable and always a companion to the other horses he is paired with. Though Beauty endures much suffering throughout his life, he is always hopeful and thinks the best of men, even of those who mistreat him most. Given the overall dark tone of the book, beginning with the death of a rider, and the gravity of the prose, I cannot understand how Black Beauty is still being considered as a children’s book, but so it is. My love of the story has inspired me to write from an animal’s perspective on numerous occasions, encouraging me to express how they might think and feel. If you have only read Black Beauty as a child, I urge you to go back and read it again, and I can guarantee that the text will have much more meaning the second time around.
About the Author: Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.