Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Black Beauty is born on a farm in the English countryside. He spends the first four years of his life there with his mother and the other farm horses. When he turns 4, the kind farmer trains Beauty to wear a saddle and a bridle, and teaches him how to carry a rider. Once the training is done, Beauty is sold to Squire Gordon.

At Squire Gordon’s home, Beauty makes friends with a pony named Merrylegs and a poorly behaved mare named Ginger. Ginger was treated poorly and abused by her previous masters, so she doesn’t trust people. As time goes by, Beauty and Ginger are paired as carriage horses and become good friends. Under the care of the coachman, John Manley, Beauty thrives in his new home and becomes a favorite of his master and the family.

Beauty proves his worth on many occasions. On a stormy night he refuses to cross a bridge because he senses something is wrong. The storm caused the bridge to wash away. By following his instinct, he saves John’s and Squire Gordon’s lives. When a barn at a hotel catches fire, Beauty’s bravery helps Ginger get the courage to run to safety. And when the mistress becomes ill, Beauty runs hard to bring the doctor back in time to save her. Despite all this, Squire Gordon is forced to sell Beauty because his wife becomes too sick to stay in the country.

Both Ginger and Beauty are sold to a neighboring Earl. This new home uses a bearing rein, which hurts Beauty’s neck and makes it harder for him to pull the carriage. Even though the work is harder than at his old home, Beauty is well taken care of until the stableman goes with the family to London. A man named Ruben Smith is left in charge of the stables.

Ruben struggles with alcoholism, and one night he falls back into his old vices. Drunk, Ruben rides Beauty with a loose shoe, something he would have been sensible enough to fix if he’d been sober. When the shoe comes off, Beauty hurts his foot and stumbles to his knees. The fall throws Ruben, who hits his head and dies. The accident leaves Beauty with permanent scars on his knees. He’s considered blemished and no longer attractive enough to be a carriage horse.

Beauty is sold to a livery stable where he is rented out to inexperienced drives that want a carriage for the day. He remains there until a gentleman takes a liking to him. This man suggests his friend, Mr. Barry, buy Beauty. Mr. Barry is unfamiliar with how to take care of a horse and pays a groom to do the work for him. The first man he hires steals Beauty’s food to feed his chickens. The second is vain and lazy. He doesn’t clean out Beauty’s stall, which makes Beauty very ill. Mr. Barry discovers both men’s bad behavior and decides he personally isn’t fit to own a horse. Once healthy, Beauty is sent to a horse auction where he is bought by a London cab driver named Jerry.

Jerry isn’t a rich man, but he works hard to support his family and takes care of Beauty and Captain, his other cab horse. Beauty always has Sundays to rest and is treated very well by Jerry and his family. During his time with Jerry, Beauty sees many masters abuse their horses.

One day he meets his old friend Ginger. She is much changed after enduring a number of hard masters. She tells Beauty that she wishes she would die so that the unbearable work and cruelty she endures would end. Later, Beauty sees a dead horse that looks much like Ginger. He hopes that the animal is Ginger and that her suffering is over.

Beauty’s time with Jerry comes to an end when his master becomes ill and takes a job in the country that will be easier on him and provide more opportunities for his family. Beauty is sold to be a carthorse. He is worked very hard in his new position and almost dies. It is determined that Beauty needs rest before he can go back to work, but his master doesn’t care to use his time or money on Beauty and decides to sell him. A man named Farmer Thoroughgood buys Beauty after his grandson insists they can help him.

After many months resting in the country, Black Beauty regains his old strength, and Farmer Thoroughgood decides it’s time to sell him to a good home. He is brought to the home of three women who are looking for a good, reliable horse. Their groom, Joe Green, comes to inspect Beauty and recognizes him. Joe worked under John Manly and remembers Black Beauty before the years of bad treatment took their toll. He tells his mistresses that Beauty is a fine horse, and the ladies decide to keep him. It is in their care that Black Beauty finds his final home.

Christian Beliefs

Jerry refuses to work on Sunday because he believes in resting that day. Jerry and other characters thank God and say, “God bless you.”

Beauty speaks with other horses about having to endure the bearing rein because it’s fashionable. Another horse tells of how his tail was docked for fashion, but he believes that men should leave horses alone because God made them as He intended.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

John Manly is the groom for Squire Gordon. He is known to be a good and honest man. On many occasions he sees a master or farmer’s son mistreating a horse or overworking it, and he steps in to stop the abuse. He isn’t afraid to defend a creature that’s suffering. When he trains the young Joe Green, he is tough but also fair with the boy. It is because of his good training that his apprentices find jobs when they become men.

Squire Gordon is known around the countryside as a great man and wise when it comes to horses. He also believes in treating horses fairly and confronting others when he sees them treating their animals poorly. Because of his example and that of John Manly, Joe Green is brave enough to confront a grown man when he is abusing his boss’s horse. He even testifies in court regarding the man’s actions.


There are numerous scenes in which horses are mistreated. Ginger is abused when she is broken into a bridle and saddle. The men who break her are so rough that she bleeds at the mouth and is beaten with a whip. She and Beauty are made to wear bearing reins, which force their heads up and strain their necks.

Beauty meets a horse whose tail has been docked because it is viewed as fashionable. A fire starts in a hotel stable, and only Beauty and Ginger make it out. All the other horses are trapped and burned alive. Beauty sees a man and a horse fall while hunting a hare. The man breaks his neck and dies; the horse is shot because he cannot be saved.

Captain talks to Beauty about being a warhorse and how he saw many battles. One of his masters was hit by a cannon ball and knocked off Captain’s back. He speaks about seeing many horses and men die on the battlefield. While there are many scenes that mention abuse, violence and blood, the wounds inflicted on the horses are not described in graphic detail.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Many characters drink or speak of the evils of drinking. Ruben Smith gets drunk and rides Black Beauty incorrectly and is killed because of it.

Smoking: Various characters smoke pipes.

Lying: Beauty notes that many people lie at the horse auction.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12







Record Label



Originally Lupton Publishing Company; then other publishers, such as Puffin Books in 2010


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!