The Black Stallion
Random House, 1941
Way back when I was a kid I loved horses (I actually had one for a year or so!) and I loved reading the books by Walter Farley. The one I am reviewing today is The Black Stallion. The story is about Alec Ramsay, a 14 year-old boy, who is on his way home from a summer vacation in India with his uncle. He is sailing on the tramp steamer, Drake through the Gulf of Aden, the Mediterranean, around the coast of Portugal, then to England before catching another ship to New York City. Along the way, the Drake stops at an ‘Arabian’ port and picks up a majestic stallion, purest black and incredibly wild. Alec becomes enamored by the Black, as he calls him. Alec begins visiting the horse every day with sugar and the two begin a friendship of sorts. One evening the ship sails into a terrible storm and begins to sink; Alec thinks to release the Black from his confining stall to at least give him a fighting chance of survival. As it happens, the only two survivors from the ship were Alec and the Black. They are quite literally shipwrecked on a desert island and need each other to survive. Alec is eventually rescued and brings the stallion with him back to New York.
I enjoyed this book as much as I did way back when – it moves along at a fast pace, there is excitement, some tension and a little worry that everything will work out. There are no real villains and no epic fight of good versus evil; instead, it is a good, wholesome story for kids who love horses. There is a horse fight – the Black and another stallion duke it out on the docks; and the Black does take down a man with a hoof; but other than that there’s no real violence. There is, however, imagining you’re riding like the wind on the back of a magnificent creature – no – flying through the wind! It’s really exhilarating! There is also loyalty, friendship and commitment – positive lessons for children and adults of all ages to learn and/or be reminded of!