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Black Beauty

Book review by
Katherine Olney, Common Sense Media
Black Beauty Book Poster Image
A heartrending, beautiful, educational classic.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 20 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Heartrending, beautiful, and educational, this morality tale gives a majestic horse a voice that is believable and unsentimental.


The book describes the cruelties that animals suffer at the hands of humans. Horses are mistreated.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the writing is elegant and the story a page-turner. But if animals or Victoriana are not your child's interest, it may not please.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byfrogger April 9, 2008
Adult Written byPinkGirl4Life1 April 9, 2008
Kid, 11 years old April 16, 2010
Black Beauty is an extremely cleverly written book. I am eleven years old and I enjoyed the book thouroughly. There are some trajic parts of the story and there... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviegeek April 9, 2008

I couldn't put it down!

I was fully expecting to hate this novel, but I found that I couldn't put it down. For some reason, the thoughts of a horse captivated me and I was totally... Continue reading

What's the story?

Heartrending, beautiful, and educational, this morality tale and animal autobiography gives a majestic horse a voice that is believable and unsentimental. An animal-rights classic that also is a great read, BLACK BEAUTY follows the life of an ebony horse from birth to old age, and from pasture to the cobblestone streets of 19th-century England.

Is it any good?

The first full-length book told from a horse's viewpoint, BLACK BEAUTY is a heartbreaking tale of the cruelties, both malicious and inadvertent, that animals suffer at the hands of humans. It's also a book of sensuous writing that can take the reader from the beauty of a spring country evening to the coal-coated world of Victorian London. Anna Sewell was a devout Quaker, and there is a spare, Quaker ethic running through the novel, encouraging the value of hard work without complaint, as well as a humble countenance.

This book eventually influenced the abolition of the cruel bearing rein, kicked off the animal-rights movement, and forced more humane treatment of London's human cabbies. Although the book is beloved by animal-loving children around the world, some readers may find the gentle sermons, as well as Beauty's loyal attitude to even the most cruel human, out of date. But most kids will feel like one 10-year-old reader, who whispered, "I learned what it feels like to be an animal...and I cried."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about treatment of animals. How has the treatment of horses changed since this book was written?

Book details

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