For this year’s A to Z Blog challenge, I thought I’d draw back the curtain and explore the life and times of a bibliophile. Care to join me?
I’m not really certain how old I was when first I read Black Beauty. I know it was the first real chapter book I read. I know it was the first book about horses I read.
It was the first book to tell me that sometimes life doesn’t have a happy ending – I still get emotional when I think about poor Ginger – but that memory is a way to keep friends and family close, even when there is a great separation between you.
It was also my first real exposure to how cruel human beings could be. It was also my first real exposure to how wonderful human beings could be in defense of our animal friends. Bravery, cowardice, remorse, even redemption – can anyone forget Joe Green’s joy at discovering he and Black Beauty had been reunited so many years after Joe’s ignorant neglect had almost killed Beauty?
It was my first understanding of the power of kindness, whether towards animals or towards another human being. I remember the kind taxi driver – Jerry – and the care he showed for his horses in an industry that encouraged hard use and recklessness. Compassion is a most powerful emotion.
Whether I realized it or not, I began to learn about storytelling in reading Black Beauty. The voice of the narrator, the voice of the author, the rises and falls of language. I also began to learn the painful truth that sometimes the story demands a turn towards heartache. The joy at the end of the story needs the sorrow foreshadowed in the beginning of it. The redemption and reunion that concludes the story needs the betrayal and separation of the middle.
It has been a number of years since last I read Anna Sewell’s classic, but it has stayed with me. It never quite leaves my heart.