BLACK BEAUTY, by Anna Sewell, Illustrated by Christian Birmingham, Candlewick Press


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Over fifty stunning illustrations from acclaimed artist Christian Birmingham bring this treasured classic new life.

When Black Beauty was born one sweet spring day, he could not have imagined the life ahead of him. Following his mother’s advice to do his work with a good will, he enjoys the adventures of country and city life, makes new friends, and suffers from the cruelty and greed of his human masters. Beauty faces each challenge with bravery and kindness — and then a chance encounter with an old friend brings him the greatest joy of all. Anna Sewell’s classic horse story has captivated generations of readers since it was first published 140 years ago.

 

This enchanting edition features the full unabridged text and Christian Birmingham’s gorgeous color and black-and-white illustrations depicting Beauty’s nineteenth-century world.

Out October 2019

240 Pages Approx.

MY THOUGHTS:

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

As a little girl, I read this book upon my mother’s urging. Since then, there’s been movies made and different editions of this classic produced highlighting many talented artist/illustrators.

Birmingham is another. The black and white sketches are just lovely but it’s the full out colored pages that stand out for this artist. Rich colors, great detail for the era and simply lovely expressions on the people. The horses… you can almost see their personalities in the illustrations. Breath-taking.

The story is told from the perspective of Beauty and the era this story takes place in is Victoria London. This is a hard time for animals, especially horses that often suffered from the abuse of man. This is a beautiful book, but it’s also troubling and sad in places. As a child, I found it so hard to read. Horses are one of my favorite animals on this planet. I recommend everyone read Sewell’s story and have handy a box of tissues for those hard to handle moments.

“Anna Sewell was a kind and generous woman whose great love for horses and desire to see them better treated resulted in the most celebrated animal story of the nineteenth century.

Born into a strict Quaker family who lived at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, she was brought up to believe in the importance of self-reliance, moral responsibility and ‘tender consideration for the Creatures of God’. From an early age she developed a strong love of animals and abhorred any form of cruelty towards them. She seemed to have a natural affinity with horses, and the great knowledge of horsemanship evident in Black Beauty was born from a lifetime’s experience. Anna received her education at home from her mother, who as well as instilling in her a sense of duty and religion also filled the house with music, painting and poetry – she was herself an accomplished ballad-writer – and Anna soon proved a capable pianist and artist. When she was fourteen, Anna – who already suffered from a crippling bone disease – had a fall which left her an invalid for the rest of her life. By her mid-thirties she was no longer able to get around by herself and relied on a pony cart to transport her. Characteristically she never used a whip on her own horses, and one of her intentions with Black Beauty was to ‘induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses.

Confined to her room through ill-health, Anna started writing Black Beauty in 1871 but later abandoned the project until 1876. Afraid that she would not live to see the book published she worked laboriously on it despite failing health. Her mother found a publisher for the book and a delighted Anna saw her work in print in November 1877. She died five months later and was buried at the family plot near Old Catton in Norfolk. What Anna did not live to see was the effect her ‘little book’ has had on the millions of people around the world who have read it. It has been translated into many languages and there have been several attempts at filming it. As Anna hoped, Black Beauty has exercised great influence on the treatment of animals, a fact highlighted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recommendation of the book.”

 

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