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The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

The Black Stallion (1941)

by Walter Farley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Black Stallion (1)

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The Black stallion follows the story of “the Black,” a wild Arabian horse and a young boy, Alec Ramsey. When their ship they’re traveling on goes down at sea, they cling to one another and find themselves stranded on a small desolate island together. While they are stranded on this island, the bond they build through the experience is truly miraculous. When help finally reaches them Alec is adamant that he is not going to leave the island without the Black. After some coaxing he convinces his rescuers to allow the wild stallion aboard their ship. Arrangements are made to get Alec back home to his parents. Upon his arrival his parents are surprised by the large companion their son has brought home with him. After some persuasion his parents agree to let him keep the horse but it is his responsibility to find somewhere to keep him and to look after him. Once again he finds himself using her persuasive skills on his neighbors who agree to let him keep the Black in their barn. The old jockey who lives their immediately recognizes the magnificence that the stallion bestows. The retired jockey and the determined and loyal young boy team up to train this horse to race. It takes a lot of work from everyone involved but in the end they reign in victory.
  psuchilit14 | Mar 13, 2014 |
1 ( )
  PhotoS | Feb 17, 2014 |
'The Black's' first book is a must read for any horse lover, young and adult alike. The story, which Farley began writing during his High School years, follows the fortunes of Alec, a boy from New York who, while returning from visiting relatives in India is shipwrecked, along with a wild black stallion. The two survive together, befriending each other and when rescued, Alec brings the stallion home, cares for him, and ultimately ends up running in the race of a lifetime against the two greatest horses of the time.

The writing, though uncomplicated, draws the reader into the adventures shared by Alec and The Black. The emotions of the characters as they thread their way through the story, all are conveyed with a simple economy of words that leaves the imagination of the reader to build the full picture in a way that is refreshing in a world where so much is often over described, and overplayed.

The overall tone of the book, and the voices of the characters are believable and fit within the era in which the book was written and is set. There are times, for example, during last chapter of the book, the reader can almost 'hear' what is being said by the characters, and this only lends and excitement and believability, (and increased enjoyment), to the whole experience of reading the book.

The first half of the story, as well as introducing the reader to the characters, covers the shipwreck and fight for survival of both Alec and the stallion that becomes his companion. Farley balances the necessity to show the hardships and the trials the pair faced, with the simple tone of the writing to create an imagery, and tell this part of the tale vividly and with a fluid narrative that leads the reader from one day to the next; one even to the next as the two learn how to survive together.

The latter half of the story is well grounded in horse and the racing culture of the day, (which has sadly not remained true through the march of years since the publishing of The Black Stallion), making that aspect of the story more understandable for young readers, and for those not fully versed in such matters, and as such proves one of the highlights – as well as providing for an exciting climax of the book. ( )
  cedargrove | Jan 30, 2014 |
Admit it, someone says "horse adventure" and this is one of the very first images that comes to mind: a beautiful Arabian standing on a beach, the wind blowing his mane, and a shipwrecked boy beside him. Anyone who has ever read this book or seen the movie has been so caught up in that "horse adventure" that it has become a part of their lives in some way or another, even deep in the subconscious mind.

This book isn't considered a classic for nothing. Though the writing is simple, the plot is mildly outrageous, and things fall into place a little too easily, the whole of the package is somehow pure perfection. The story perfectly feeds off of the deep desires of so many who want to wake up one day and have a horse of their own just fall into their lap. Any young reader who picks up this book is certain to try and read it all in one sitting and will most probably deepen their love of horses.

As an adult, rereading this book transports me to a time when the racetracks of America were open and alive. I can exist in a time when people talked as much about what horse was the best as they now wonder who will be the National Champion at basketball. Reading the lives of Alec and Henry, taking in the words that so perfectly describe the action and sound of a racetrack, and experiencing the call of the race as if it were live on the radio, are all elements of this book that jump quickly to life inside the hearts of so many, capturing a time gone by and making this story one that will keep readers forever young. ( )
  mirrani | Jan 28, 2014 |
I never went through a "horse" stage, which I understand many girls go through---I preferred stories about ghosts, vampires, black cats holed up behind brick walls, and teenagers with telekinesis---so this was one of the many books I missed when I was the target audience. My daughter reads animal stories like I used to read horror stories, so The Black Stallion eventually made it onto her reading list.

While this book gives the reader the sense that there were no women in the early 20th century except a couple of wives who mostly kept fearfully tucked inside their homes trying to keep their menfolk from getting into mischief, it was better than I expected it to be. I vaguely remember seeing the movie when I was a kid, but I mostly just remember it being dark and kind of boring. As a result, I was surprised at just how engaging the book is.

We read it as a read-aloud, and every time I finished a chapter, both of the kids would give me the, "Awww! Just one more chapter? Pleeease?" even if it wasn't bedtime. We all especially enjoyed the last chapter. It was quite intense, although that might be due in part to the fact that I read it while impersonating a horse race announcer.

A couple of minor points that left me pondering:

1) Alec's parents pay a surprisingly small amount of attention to his whereabouts. That kid leaves the house at all hours and they not only don't notice, when they learn about it, they don't even seem bothered by it. Of course, he is a teenager and he did survive a shipwreck and several weeks on a desert island where he managed to befriend a wild horse in his free time, but I still have trouble imagining giving my kids such free rein (so to speak).

2) His school day ended at 12:30 p.m. Was this common in the 1930's and 40's? Because it seems like it would be a lot easier for kids to fit in homework and extracurriculars and still get adequate sleep if their school day ended at lunchtime. How did they get all of their learning done in just a few hours? Were the classes smaller? Were the students more disciplined? Did they just learn less stuff?

At any rate, the book was fun to read, and both of my kids enjoyed it. I wonder if we'll be picking up Farley's other Black Stallion books? And I wonder if those will shed any light on the four-hour school-day mystery? ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Dec 16, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Farley, Walterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Henstra, FrisoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, KeithIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important places
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To Mother, Dad and Bill
First words
The tramp steamer Drake plowed away from the coast of India and pushed its blunt prow into the Arabian Sea, homeward bound.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679813438, Paperback)

First published in 1941, Walter Farley's best-selling novel for young readers is the triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. From Alec Ramsay and the Black's first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:42 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Young Alec Ramsay is shipwrecked on a desert island with a horse destined to play an important part in his life. Following their rescue their adventure continues in America.

» see all 8 descriptions

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