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Black Beauty


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Gr 3-6-A wonderful combination of visual and oral storytelling, this title brings Charles Dickens' classic easily within reach of younger readers. Oliver, an orphan, escapes his life of hard labor only to fall into the hands of the London underworld. Their attempts to indoctrinate Oliver into their gangs of child thieves fail, as innocent Oliver is slow to catch on. His eventual capture and rescue by Mr. Brownlow begins an adventure that leads him to an incredible discovery. Tony Robinson's authentic English voice offers a compelling reality to the Victorian English tale. The accompanying music and sound effects complement the storyline nicely, without detracting from the mysterious plot. This rendition is a skillful adaptation of the original. The illustrations in the book, as well as photography, diagrams, maps and sidebars offer additional insight into the period's history, and explain in detail terms and customs unfamiliar to today's young readers. A photograph of a period wheelchair, for example, is accompanied by this explanation: "Victorian wheelchairs were heavy and cumbersome. This is why Oliver is not able to wheel the chair himself and needs Mrs. Bedwin to push him. Modern wheelchairs are made of lighter materials." This title will be appreciated especially by reluctant readers, teachers, and family listeners.-Kirsten Martindale, Buford Academy, GA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

In this abridgement of Sewell's classic story, McKinley has managed nicely to retain Beauty's unique voice as well as the most-remembered stories, while making the text more accessible to younger readers. Jeffers's fine ink illustrations will satisfy even the most demanding of horse-lovers with her ability to capture each horse's personality. This version brings back the sharpness of the cruelty towards Beauty and his companions, and McKinley has rightfully retained the pain and the ugliness of some of the incidents. Children will still weep at the death of Ginger, and Jeffers's portrayal of the barn fire is quite frightening. It's an elegant edition, which will linger with readers until they are ready to tackle the original. (All ages

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