'The new sequel to Black Beauty is a book I could read with my sister': the class book review

There is plenty of drama in this tale of loss, horse-whispering and cross-dressing, our reviewers say

Kim Duffy

News article image

Title: Finding Black Beauty
Author: Lou Kuenzler
Publisher: Scholastic

Teacher review

Finding Black Beauty, by Lou Kuenzler, is an imaginative retelling of the Anna Sewell classic adventure story, Black Beauty.

It takes the viewpoint of Joe Green, the inexperienced groom, and shows how his friendship with Black Beauty develops. However, there is a wonderful twist that my group of young readers really enjoyed: Joe is really Josie.

After the sudden (and shocking – the children in my review group couldn’t quite believe it) death of her father, Josie see a future living with her aunt and cousin – and without her beloved horses – as rather bleak. So she runs off to join the horses at their new country estate.

She poses as a young boy and is thrown in the deep end when she discover a very upset Black Beauty and calms him with her magical touch with horses. But, during her efforts to keep Black Beauty safe, happy and nearby, Josie makes some mistakes and friends along the way.

Finding Black Beauty, Lou Kuenzler, Anna Sewell, Scholastic, book review

I really enjoyed this re-invention of a classic tale, with its cast of vivid characters, both animal and human. This story is full of plenty of shocking moments, and twists and turns that kept my review group guessing. All the children predicted entirely different endings, which is the mark of wonderful story-telling.

Peppered with humour among the dramatic moments and with charming characters that children will love, this is a great story for adventure fans and fans of animal stories alike. An absolutely delightful story!

Curriculum links

This book would work brilliantly alongside a project about the Victorians, as it is set during this time period. With vivid descriptions of Victorian London, this book would really bring to life the experiences of people during this time. Given that much of the book is set on several big estates, it is a perfect opener to discussing the differences between the quality of life of the upper and the working classes.

The children who I reviewed this book with were also shocked about the treatment of the animals in the story, so it would be a helpful tool for learning how attitudes to animal welfare have changed over time.

It is worth noting that at one point in the story Josie experiences her first period, and there is some discussion about this, so probably best for upper primary school.

Kim Duffy is primary teacher at Auchtermuchty Primary School. She writes a book blog, and tweets as @BookBairn

Children’s reviews

I really loved this book, because I thought it was really surprising and it has a lot of drama. I found some parts quite shocking. I also love horses so this is a great choice for me.
Kaitlyn, Primary 6

I enjoyed this book, because it is a book that I could read with my sister. My favourite character is Josie/Joe. I think this book is best for children aged 10 and older.
Ross, Primary 6

I liked the book because I love horses! My favourite part is when Josie found Black Beauty. This is a great book for people who like horses, like me!
Eilidh, Primary 6

I really enjoyed the book because it is a very interesting story and has a lot of drama in it. I think my sister would really enjoy this book!
Calum, Primary 6 (whose sister reviewed The Racehorse who wouldn’t Gallop for TES)

If you or your class would like to write a review for TES, please contact Adi Bloom at adi.bloom@tesglobal.com

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Kim Duffy

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