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Archive YA/Children Group Read > 2018 June - Black Beauty

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message 1: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8957 comments Mod
Tracey will be leading the discussion for this wonderful book.


message 2: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 729 comments Anna Mary Sewell (1820 – 1878) was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. At age fourteen, she slipped while walking home from school and severely injured both of her ankles. Sewell remained disabled for the rest of her life, most likely due to mistreatment of her injuries, and could not walk or stand without a crutch. Her need for horse-drawn carriages and her constant close proximity to horses led to her increased awareness and concern for their humane treatment. She wrote Black Beauty from 1871 to 1877 amid declining health and died five months after her only novel’s publication.

Sewell's intention in writing the book was to promote the humane treatment of horses. Called the "Uncle Tom's Cabin of the Horse," Black Beauty is credited with having the greatest effect on the treatment of animals of any publication in history. The book resulted in legislation protecting horses and a changed public attitude about animal pain and the traditional and fashionable practices that caused suffering for horses.

Questions:
1. Who is the narrator in the book and do you think this angle works?
2. What other social issues other than humane treatment of horses does the book mention?
3. What are other themes in the book?
4. Black Beauty was not written just for children but is today seen as children's book. Why do you think this is? If Sewell wrote it for adults also, what group was she aiming it at?
5. In the beginning of the book, Black Beauty's mother mentions three kinds of men; what are they? Can you name any men in the story and what kind of man they were?


message 3: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6299 comments Mod
Hi Tracey! Thank you for the information on Sewell, I had no idea of her life situation. Her accomplishments is remarkable.


message 4: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 03, 2018 05:06AM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments As Tracy states above, Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty originally for an adult audience. But she also and importantly wrote the novel with a very much deliberate and particular purpose in mind, namely to point out the often inhumane training and horse keeping methods and practices prevalent in the England of her time (and used especially with regard to carriage horses), and in fact, Black Beauty did succeed with regard to opening people's eyes about the potential issues with blinkers, that bearing reins were painful and horrible for horses if too tight (and that tail docking was simple mutilation and all for so called fashion).


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 03, 2018 05:48AM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments Although I do tend to normally not enjoy talking animal stories all that much unless they are folk or fairy tales, with Black Beauty, with in particular the title character, his autobiography, his personal narrational voice work because while Black Beauty tells us his story and we also are able to listen in whilst he chats and converses with other equines (his mother, Ginger, Merrylegs, the Captain etc.), ALL of the horses always do act like horses are supposed to and they also never talk aloud with humans (and this keeps Black Beauty realistic and prevents it from becoming some fantastical tale of a talking equine). In other words, Anna Sewell uses Black Beauty's voice, his narration to make her novel more immediate and emotional, but because the threshhold of fantasy, of the horses actually talking with humans and no longer acting like typical horses is thankfully never crossed, Black Beauty succeeds in keeping its sense and core of reality, of showing what horses actually in truth experience with regard to humans, both good and horrible. And really, even for the few times that Black Beauty becomes perhaps a trifle too philosophical to be entirely believable, this is fortunately never over-done and almost immediately moves back to Beauty being once again a typical horse.


message 6: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 03, 2018 12:42PM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments As to Tracy's second and third questions, Black Beauty deals with not only animal suffering but also social issues that can and do affect both humans and animals (in this case mostly horses of course). That poverty and the often rigid social stratification of English society can be at best problematic is a recurring theme, as well as issues with alcoholism and indeed that the owners of cart horses are often at the beck and call of demanding and unthinking customers (for while horses are indeed mistreated due to nastiness and thoughtlessness, it is also often the sad fact that when it comes to working folk, they are not considered as all that important by the high and the mighty, by the well heeled and socially advanced, just look at Seedy Sam who never had any vacation times even on Sundays and was basically worked to death in the same way that he was working his poor cab horses to death by the simple necessity of having to continuously work to make ends meet).


message 7: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 03, 2018 05:00AM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments Finally, I am going to post the review for Black Beauty I wrote a few years ago (just reread the novel last month and my musings are still what I want to write). But will use spoiler tags.

(view spoiler)


message 8: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8957 comments Mod
I read this book for the first time as an adult, when my daughter received a copy of the book from a friend.
I admire the writing style and the story, but the message is still important today.
Cruelty is not acceptable.


message 9: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 03, 2018 12:41PM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I read this book for the first time as an adult, when my daughter received a copy of the book from a friend.
I admire the writing style and the story, but the message is still important today.
Crue..."


I find it rather sad that the same messages against cruelty and thoughtlessness with regard to animals are still as necessary today as they were when Black Beauty was originally published; we have learned somewhat but not nearly enough.


message 10: by Wend (new)

Wend (wends) | 1 comments A lovely book. It is sad that over a hundred years later we still need reminding of lessons about cruelty.


message 11: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 729 comments Manybooks wrote: "Finally, I am going to post the review for Black Beauty I wrote a few years ago (just reread the novel last month and my musings are still what I want to write). But will use spoiler ta..."

Thanks Manybooks for all your insightful comments. :)


message 12: by Tracey (last edited Jun 15, 2018 12:25PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 729 comments Wend wrote: "A lovely book. It is sad that over a hundred years later we still need reminding of lessons about cruelty."

Wend and Manybooks, as they say, 'nothing new under the sun.' Humanity is very flawed and each generation needs to be reminded of a higher standard to reach for. Which is why we need to keep classics around and promote them. A reading people are a thinking people and thinking people learn and change. If 'anyone' wanted to stop change they only need to stop access to the written word that carries higher standards.


message 13: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments Tracey wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Finally, I am going to post the review for Black Beauty I wrote a few years ago (just reread the novel last month and my musings are still what I want to write). But w..."

Makes it easier that I love the book!


message 14: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6299 comments Mod
Well said Tracey! Thank you!


message 15: by shannon (new)

shannon  Stubbs | 221 comments I liked the theme throughout the book about treating both humans and animals with kindness. Kindness can go a long way with both creature and man.


message 16: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 729 comments The book Black Beauty effected me greatly when I read it as a girl. I loved the story so much that when my dad brought home an unwanted kitten (that was going to be drowned) which was all white except for a black spot on his forehead, I named him white beauty. Always known as Beauty.

My question is, what book from your childhood effected you as a child and made you be more sensitive or appreciative of things in your life?


message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments When I read the Madicken books by Astrid Lindgen in German as a child, especially the second one made me realise that I should not care about having a more socialist attitude towards life and society even if it majorly bugged my family (and it did).


message 18: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 27, 2018 04:26AM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments Just started reading Anna Sewell's Black Beauty : the graphic novel

Anna Sewell's Black Beauty the graphic novel by June Brigman

Not the same as the novel, of course, but so far a decent graphic novel adaptation and one that might be a good bet for more reluctant readers (although I do find the font too small for my eyes.


Now for a graphic novel adaptation of Anna Sewell's classic Black Beauty June Brigman and Roy Richardson have done a pretty well remarkable job keeping intact almost ALL of the important scenarios essential to the original plot line and story (although of course, as this is a graphic novel and abridgement, leaving out much of the descriptive filler or rather, I should say, often rendering what is verbal description and expansion with Anna Sewell into visuals, into illustrations, something that I have indeed found interesting and definitely readable, but as a primarily textual and verbal reader, I do still if truth be told much prefer reading about Black Beauty in a novel than in a graphic novel format). And furthermore, for someone with ageing eyes, I definitely and in fact do oh so much wish that the presented text in Anna Sewell's Black Beauty: The Graphic Novel were a bit thicker and penned in a larger font size, as even with my reading glasses, I am experiencing some rather annoying eyestrain (and actually had a bit of a headache last night after having finished). Nevertheless, for a graphic novel adaptation of a children's literature classic, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty: The Graphic Novel has definitely been a most enjoyable, eye-opening, enlightening, and yes indeed also almost equal to perusing Anna Sewell's original reading experience (but with the in my opinion very much necessary caveat that if you have found reading about Black Beauty's trials and tribulations emotionally hard and devastating, you might actually find visually seeing illustrations of the same, but especially the pictures of Ginger's death and of horses being overworked, brutally whipped, falling, bleeding much more emotionally traumatic than actually only reading about them without accompanying illustrations).


message 19: by Manybooks (last edited Jun 25, 2018 05:16AM) (new)

Manybooks | 520 comments Has anyone read Black Beauty's Family? Have never dared to consider this continuation (and its sequel, both seemingly collections of short stories), as I just cannot imagine them being in any way as good as Anna Sewell's original.


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