Sunday, June 29, 2014

Classics Review: The Black Stallion

Premise: After being shipwrecked together, Alec and a mostly-wild horse begin an impossible quest to train and compete in horse racing.

Title: The Black Stallion
Author: Walter Farley
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Classic
Series or Stand Alone: Book 1 of 19
Content appropriate for: Grades 4-6

Three adjectives that describe this book: predictable, engaging, easy-to-read

I am in the middle of the Classics Club challenge to read 50 classics books in 5 years. Every so often the club hosts a Classics Spin in which a book is chosen randomly (ish). The Black Stallion is my book for Classics Spin #6 and it was listed as a "Book I'm Hesitant to Read." That's because I don't like horses, so I knew that The Black Stallion would be a real challenge for me.

Okay, enough stalling - here's my review:

I'm sure kids who love horses also love this book. It is very very horsey. I am freaked out by horses. Still, Black Stallion was a pretty engaging read. The plot drove forward without lingering on character development. That left the story thin and riddled with cultural stereotypes (the Italian immigrant, Tony, being the most offensive to me). Overall, I found myself more interested than I expected to be in the process of breaking a wild horse. Farley did a great job crafting Black and the scenes in which he interacted with young Alec.

My primary complaint is the way parents are handled in this book. Alec and his retired neighbor sneak off several days a week at midnight to ride the Black. They never tell his parents. They just say, "I hope they don't find out." And then when Alec finally tells them, they don't care. They just say okay and send him off to Chicago with two grown men they barely know! Really? Was that parenting in the 40s? Your kid does whatever he wants at all hours with strange adults and you don't know and don't care?

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