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Black Beauty
Cover of Black Beauty
Black Beauty
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 2, 2005
    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.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 10, 2016
    In a brisk adaptation of Anna Sewell’s 1877 animal story, Black Beauty recounts his early life on a farm and the accident that leads him to become a work horse in London, where he is abused by his masters. Brown illustrates in a rich, pastoral style, capturing pivotal events that include a frightening barn fire and Black Beauty’s collapse on cobblestone streets. Though Brown’s adaptation moves quickly through the horse’s many travails, her injuries and mistreatments still strike their intended emotional chords, making her eventual reunion with the kindly groom Joe Green in the bucolic final pages feel very well-deserved. Ages 4–9.

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