WRB—Dec. 2022 Children’s Literature Supplement
Agreeable Grey and Black Beauty, Plays and Playthings
Christmastime is (basically) here! If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for Sarah’s Christmas picture-book review, well, you’ll have to hold on just a bit longer. The NR gods have decreed it shall appear no later than Christmas Day in the morning. Wait, our intrepid author had Christmas book suggestions? Indeed. Seven, to be precise. Read about it here. Uninterested in Christmas books? We can accommodate that, too.
Something old . . .:
Karen Swallow Prior, besides having the most lovely name, is also a wonderfully lyrical writer. This time, she’s taken pen in hand to give us a review of Anna Sewell’s classic tale, Black Beauty. [To my great surprise, I discovered that this wasn’t originally a children’s story. —Sarah] There’s much to be considered in this review (and hopefully it encourages a reading or rereading of the book), but the melodiousness of this particular passage is delightful:
The newly industrialized society in which Sewell lived had, ironically, become increasingly dependent upon horses, which were needed to fill the growing transportation and commerce demands of populous urban centers. Within a modern mindset shaped by metaphors of mechanization, horses were viewed as extensions of trains and valued and treated accordingly. The city environment—with tight spaces, loud noises, and cobblestone roads—itself was inherently inhospitable to such delicate, high strung creatures. Compounding the problem further, the migration of many laborers from the countryside to urban areas put more and more horses into the hands of those unschooled in their care. Sewell wrote her book with this audience in mind, nestling lessons on the care of horses inside an engaging story, one that stable hands, grooms, and drivers could both read and enjoy. She wrote not just for those who owned horses but also for those who labored with them.
[Emphasis added. —Sarah]
. . . Something new:
Since we’re talking about Black Beauty, Sarah had quite a negative reaction to Disney’s 2020 movie adaptation.
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