Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is probably most known for raising awareness of animal cruelty and changing the lives of carriage horses.
Summary of Black Beauty
Meet Black Beauty, the hero of our story! Life was far from easy during the Victorian era. For horses like Black Beauty, it was even harder. While starting off life happy, he inevitably encounters mistreatment and cruelty, the harsh reality for many horses during this difficult time. But bravely, despite his struggles, Black Beauty narrates his experiences, allowing us to look through his eyes and appreciate the beauty, intelligence, and emotions of all horses.
This book really pushed for the better treatment of horses and was used by animal rights activists to push for better laws around carriage horses. Honestly, this is such a beautiful story and is well worth the read, even today.
Black Beauty on the Barely Bookish Podcast
Nova and I discuss this timeless classic over on the Barely Bookish podcast. So, make sure to give it a listen as we deep-dive into this story.
I love that this book raised so much awareness for animal welfare by showing Beauty’s life story. It is super easy to read since it’s one of the many classic stories geared toward children, however, it doesn’t talk down to you which can be the case with other children’s stories.
Black Beauty 1994
This is truly the best retelling of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell as it’s the closest movie to the actual book. So, if you’re wanting to watch one of the adaptations, I recommend this one. We also discussed this version on the Barely Bookish podcast.
Black Beauty 2020
DO NOT WATCH THIS VERSION. It’s terrible. It’s absolutely nothing like Anna Sewell’s book and you will be bitterly disappointed. Basically, it is a weird combination of every horse movie and it’s set in the modern day which makes it weird.
Instead of being on an English farm in the 1800s, they’re on a modern farm in New York that goes bankrupt and they have to lease out Black Beauty to a rich family which is where she gets her bad treatment in this story. However, the bad treatment isn’t even realistic and the whole family seems like overacting.
There’s also some talk of Beauty being a wild horse and a Stallion, which isn’t true and also very strange. We also lose all animal narration in this story, making Beauty a side character to a story about themself.
While it shows the different treatment of horses, it doesn’t really hold up. It’s just not really a compelling story in the modern day as we have so many laws around animal rights and animal welfare, making it so difficult to get the classic story across in the same way.