October 13, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: The Black Stallion

I told Noel that I'm pretty sure every girl goes through a horse phase. I'm not talking My Little Ponies, but rather that late elementary phase where you wish you had a horse friend, à la My Friend Flicka or Black Beauty or - for me - The Black Stallion. Or was it just me?

I loved these books as a kid - I gobbled up all the Black Stallions and all the Island Stallions. I think I must've re-read The Island Stallion books more, because I remember those pretty well, but I was pleasantly surprised to remember basically nothing from The Black Stallion. It's always nice to have a book feel "new" again!

Young Alec Ramsay is headed home from visiting an uncle in India, when his ship crashes. He and a fierce, dangerous black stallion are the only two survivors. Over the course of their weeks on a deserted island, Alec manages to befriend the proud creature.

When Alec and the Black are rescued from the island, he determinedly overcomes all obstacles to take the Black back to New York with him, and then convinces his parents to let him keep the horse. Luckily for Alec and the Black, their neighbor, Henry, is a retired jockey who helps Alec train the Black and break him to bridle.

It's a sweet coming of age type story, with Alec acting astonishingly mature for his age - and forming touching friendships with the horse and Henry the neighbor. And, it's the beginning of a twenty book series - which means that all sorts of excitement is in store for Alec and the Black! There was an Italian character who was presented in a slightly negative, uneducated light - but he's a minor character, and since the book was written in the late 1930s it could've been a lot worse.

I think elementary boys would like The Black Stallion too - because Alec survives not only the shipwreck, but several dangerous falls off the Black, and the two endure many other adventures in their journey together. It seems like a perfect book for boys or girls.

I'm not the only one who loved horse books, right?

Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommended age: 8 and up

This post is day thirteen of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.