Friday, January 6, 2017

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

The Black was looking out on the open sea; his ears pricked forward, his thin-skinned nostrils quivering, his black mane flowing like windswept flame. Alec could not turn his eyes away; he could not believe such a perfect creature existed.

The Black Stallion is a classic kid's book that I could never get into because I never cared about horses. Or, more accurately, I really enjoyed the first third, in which our protagonist, Alec, is shipwrecked and pulled to safety by the Black. The book then becomes a Robinson Crusoe with a horse sort of thing, though to the book's credit, it seems pretty clear that had he not been rescued, Alec would have died. Of course, he is rescued and taken back to his home in the U.S. with the titular horse, who is frequently said be the finest piece of horseflesh which has ever existed.

None of that is to say I didn't enjoy the book this time through, but as a kid, I always found the preparation for the big race, between the stallion and the two reigning (LOL) champions pretty dull compared to breaking a horse on a desert island. I did enjoy the latter half of the book more this time, but I still like the survivalist first third the best. However, I read this book aloud to my four year old over the course of a couple weeks, and now she can't talk about anything else, so while I'd consider The Black Stallion to be a decent book for older readers, I'd say it's definitely a hit with its target audience.

The writing is mostly good and the plot makes sense, for the most part--the Black isn't allowed to race in regular races because he doesn't have his papers, which is a significant plot you don't see much in kids' books. Overall, it was fun. I'll be reading (but maybe not reviewing?) at least the next book too, wherein Alec and the Black head to Arabia after the Black's real owner shows up--the first chapter made my four-year-old sob, so we'll see what happens.

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