Sunday, July 25, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 3

This is the third part of an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a writer.

Black Beauty
by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty (Unabridged Classics)Written by Anna Sewell and originally published in 1877, Black Beauty has come to be considered literature for young people even though it was not meant to be such. But it is understandable to see how this came about after having read the book.

The story is that of Black Beauty, a horse living in 19th Century Britain, and the tale is told in first person by this horse. The chapters deal with Black Beauty's various owners, some cruel and some not, and much of the story's focus is upon cruelty towards animals and how it affects the animals.

There's not much fantastical here, strictly speaking, unless one considers a horse being able to tell his own story fantastical. But it is a heartwarming tale.

Also, personally, this is an important book for me. It was the very first book I ever read. I picked it up at my school library in second or third grade, and I was soon hooked. I then went on to read a sequel, The Son of Black Beauty by Phyllis Brigs, and a string of unrelated novels in the Black Stallion series written by Walter Farley.

While Black Beauty was my first book, it was by no means my first reading material. Like many other kids growing up in the 1970s, I'd read and had read to me plenty of children's literature, such as the Dr. Suess books. Also, I was a huge comic book fan; I poured through tons and tons of comic books, my favorites back then being the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Batman, Superman and World's Finest (with Batman and Superman).

Why did I pick up Black Beauty in the first place? I honestly don't know. I wish I could remember, and it kind of bugs me that I can't. I grew up in horse country, and though I like horses I've never been particularly drawn to them, so I don't think it was the specific subject matter. However, I would like to think this book influenced my beliefs and opinions about animal welfare.

Next up: The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

There was another black stallion in my experience. The black stallion books of Walter Farley, which I loved. I didn't read this one until later.