A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
George Orwell's novel, about totalitarianism in general and Stalinism in particular, is one of the most famous satires in the English language. It comments on Soviet Russia specifically and human folly in general.
The main message of Animal Farm is pretty bleak, in essence, "Don't let this happen." Most of the animals mean well and want their farm to succeed, but none are a match for the treachery of their leaders.
Positive Role Models
Many of the characters in Animal Farm care about their community, but few are intellectually equipped to see how they are being exploited until it is too late. For example, Boxer the horse is steadfast in his support of the farm and pushes himself to great acts of strength for the good of all. But even he is unprepared for his ultimate fate once he is no longer needed.
Violence & Scariness
The animals rebel against their human master and chase him from the farm. When Farmer Jones returns with his neighbors, the animals attack the intruders and inflict various bites and cuts on them. Later, the pigs use their guard dogs to keep order on the farm. Some animals are executed for crimes for which they have supposedly confessed. The violence in the novel is not described in detail, but its emotional implications might be upsetting to some readers.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Even though the use of alcohol is prohibited on the farm, the pigs eventually feel free to get drunk whenever the mood strikes them.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Animal Farm is a biting satire of totalitarianism, written in the wake of World War II and published amid the rise of Soviet Russia. Although it tells a fairly simple story of barnyard animals trying to manage themselves after rebelling against their masters, the novel demonstrates how easily good intentions can be subverted into tyranny.
Is It Any Good?
The story and language are very simple, but Orwell is unnervingly precise in the way he depicts each step on the road from revolution to tyranny. ANIMAL FARM has been popular and highly acclaimed since its publication in 1945. In 2005, Time magazine chose it as one of the 100 best English-language novels, and the book ranks at 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th Century Novels.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.