Friday, May 17, 2013

Children's Book Week 2013 - The Black Stallion Series

My pick for Day 5 of Children's Book Week 2013 is the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. I read my first Black Stallion book in the third grade at John Ireland Elementary in Odessa, Texas, and it blew me away. As a good Texas girl, I sat my first horse at the age of three. Horses are poetry in motion.

First Edition 1941
There are twenty books in the original series, which begins with The Black Stallion (1941), wherein the main (human) character, the teenage Alec Ramsay, forms a spiritual bond with the black Arabian stallion (Shêtân) that carries him to safety on a deserted island after the ship they are both sailing on goes down in a storm. This book won the 1944 Young Reader's Choice Award. The series continues the adventures of Alec and The Black, introducing the horse to a racetrack; a plane crash in the American west (The Black Stallion Revolts, the first one I read); racing a ghostly competitor in the middle of the night in the sands of Arabia (The Black Stallion Mystery, this is the one I read to my fourth-grade class); to a whacked-out night on hallucinogens (poisoned) of some sort, trying to escape from a bad guy in the Florida Everglades (The Black Stallion's Ghostthis one gave me the creeps for days).

Movies have, of course, been made, with uneven results. The Black Stallion (1979) is a movie starring Kelly Reno as Alec and Mickey Rooney as Henry Dailey, the curmudgeonly old trainer with a heart of gold, and a gorgeous piece of pure-bred Arabian horse-flesh, and well worth your time, winning a couple of Academy Awards. The Black Stallion Returns (1983) and The Young Black Stallion (2003) are not.

The Black Stallion series is perfect for any animal-loving child. They'll teach your child (and maybe you) respect, kindness, perseverance, loyalty and the responsibility placed on all of us to be good stewards of the animals (and people) entrusted to our care. The rewards are incalculable. Enjoy!

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