Monday, 20 February 2017

Talking Books Three: Sequels again

Finding Black Beauty by Lou Kuenzler

After the success of Holly Webb's Return to the Secret Garden I ventured back in to the work of reworkings/sequels to classic children's books.

Black Beauty is one the books that my dad recommended to me as a child, in fact I do still have his childhood copy on my shelves, and so to discover that there was a modern reworking available was exciting and nerve wracking!

Once more I am pleased to say that, for the most part this book, I really enjoyed this book.  Rather than being a sequel or prequel (something that the Pullein-Thompson family have already done*) this book took one small, but pivotal, character from the original and imagined a story around this.

Most of the story was believable, even the cross dressing, and Kuenzler's love for the original shone through and I found myself believing her version of the action totally.  My misgivings came in the London section when I thought the plot became a little obvious and unnecessary - although it had been signposted since the beginning. My quibbles might just be because I am an adult reading a book for children and so can spot this in writing more easily.

My main query about all of these modern day reworkings and sequels is hard to articulate - they seem to be so much easier to read than the originals. I know I read the source books as a child and these as an adult but they do somehow seem easier. I can't tell why though as I can't actually spot any clear examples of 'dumbing down' and in some ways these new books cover topics more adult and more explicitly than the originals.

It was good to be pleasantly surprised by this book and I think that the balance in good/poor reworkings has now equalled out so I will continue trying them with hope.

*I am 90% certain that I read this as child (I probably chose the book because of how thick the book was) and that it wasn't a book I reread unlike Black Beauty itself.

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