Friday, July 13, 2007

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Rating: 6/10

Published: 1877
Number of pages: 176
ISBN: 014240408X

Started: 16 April 2007
Finished: 28 April 2007

Summary (taken from
This graphic novel adapts the classic children's story of a horse whose gentle nature triumphs over abuse and misfortune. Anna Sewell's original remains beloved to preteen girls in particular, not just for the adventures Black Beauty goes through, but also for Sewell's lyrical descriptions of a past era. Husband-and-wife team Brigman and Richardson do a wonderful job illustrating that period, with b&w drawings that pop off the page and give readers an excellent sense of place as well as time. Unfortunately hamstrung by having to shorten a story that spans many years, they have had to cut all of Sewell's descriptions and most of her transitions, leaving short, choppy chapters that represent information rather than tell a story. Sewell originally wrote the story to expose mistreatment of animals in her society, and the cuts leave the adaptation sounding a bit preachy and repetitive. The spirit of the author's brave horse still comes through, as Black Beauty describes his different masters and the other horses he meets in his life. This should be a hit with horse lovers still too young for the original.

Not a bad read, but I wouldn't read it again. It was very repetitive in the way that it describes Black Beauty's various encounters with humans ('horse meets bad person, horse meets good person, horse meets bad person' etc). When there were actually things happening I enjoyed it but otherwise it was a bit tedious. As an aside, I downloaded this book from Project Gutenberg and read it on my iPod.

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