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Black Beauty

Last updated Monday, March 26, 2012

Author: Anna Sewell
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 161382100X
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2012

Synopsis: HarperCollins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics. 'We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.' When his beloved owners are forced to sell him, Black Beauty leaves his life as a young, care-free colt behind him and embarks on a working life of misery. Cruelly treated by his new masters, Anna Sewell rails against animal mistreatment in this poignant tale of a horse whose spirit can not be broken.

Note to readers:
•  Since this book is written in old English, identify words the author uses throughout the book and translate them into modern day use.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Begin reading the book and then a few pages in, ask the students who's perspective the story is told from.

•  Ill-tempered: Bad attitude
•  Particular: Specific
•  Opressed: Unhappy, to have little freedom
•  Withstand: Stay strong throughout troubles
•  Dreadful: Horrible
•  Grieved: Work through extreme sadness
•  Regiment: Group of soldiers
•  Plucky: Brave
•  Circumstance: Certain condition in a situation
•  Cankered: To become corrupt
•  Astonished: Surprised
•  Fortnight: Two weeks

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What was Black Beauty being trained to be?
•  How did Black Beauty get his name?
•  Have you read other books that were told by animals?
•  Did the scene when Black Beauty tells of being mistreated or seeing other animals being mistreated affect you? Would it have been as powerful if it was told from the human point of view?
•  During this time period, what are some reasons people owned horses? Why are they owned today?

Craft ideas:
•  Lucky Horseshoe: Cut a horseshoe out of construction paper and decorate it. Then roll a piece of border paper around a thin tube (a marker will work), use tape to keep it rolled. Tape the rolled tube standing up on a piece of 4x4 cardstock (this is the base). Now you can play a game of horsehoes, by trying to toss the horseshoe around the tube. (GLCs, let us know if you want border paper and cardstock.)

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!