24 May 2012

The Little Prince

A while ago, I mentioned that I put my name in the hat for the French authors Challenge over at Beware of the Froggies.  My goal was to finish just one review, though now that I’ve finished, I’ve got another in the works, so it looks like I’ll be surpassing my original goal.  Anyway, my first book is The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupéry, which is apparently one of the most translated books from French into English ever.  I had never heard of it before this challenge, which probably means I’m just a disconnected lump.  Anyway, without further ado.

The Little Prince written and illustrated by Antoine de St. Exupéry
Published in 1943
Got it from: The Library’s Juvenile Section
83 pages

As a boy, he grew up feeling unable to connect with adults.  As a man he becomes a pilot and forgets how silly adults can be.  After a crash landing in the deserts of Africa, he meets a mysterious and insightful little boy from the stars.

The boy, the man
Ostensibly, this story is about a boy who helps a man remember childhood and teaches him to take himself both more and less seriously.  He reminds him of himself and reminds him that there is more to life than philosophy and numbers and politics and that his younger self was right about some things.  This part of the story is fun.  I don’t know that I necessarily saw the world this way when I was young, but I do remember thinking that adults just didn’t understand about important things.  I’m sure we all felt that way.  This part of the story reminded me of that time and it felt good.

But the other part of the story is that the boy learns something too.  I think his discussions with the man and the telling of his travels gave him perspective.  When he lived on his asteroid, he was unaware of all the other beauty in the world and when he finally discovered it, he realized an even deeper beauty back home; “The stars are beautiful because of a flower you don’t see…”

The words, the pictures
The innocent wisdom of the boy that is portrayed so magnificently in words is channeled directly in the illustrations.  Watercolors and simple designs portray the essence of the boy perfectly.  The incorporation of the pictures throughout the actual text, made it read almost like a graphic novel, both the words and pictures simultaneously.

One of my (many) favorite pages
In the beginning, I didn’t really love them, but they very quickly grew on me.  Their effect was twofold making the boy, his home, his flower and then sheep look as innocent and honest as they sounded and they made some of the more silly adults look even sillier.  At first, I thought they might be either cutesy and boring or pretentious and flat.  In the end they felt natural and augmented the story, further cementing my curiosity about the boy and later my attachment to him.  All in all, I think it was a better book for them.

This is one of those children’s books that are intended just as much for adults as children.  I imagine that children might get as much out of it as adults too, though I wonder if it might be too sad in the end (I guess it was sad for me too though).  The story is simple and the illustrations too, and that is precisely TLP’s charm.  It isn’t perfect but it’s fun and sweet and asks you to question your outlook on life and you can get it from the kids section in the library.  I don’t know about you, but I love it when I find something fun there.  For one thing, it’s close to the puzzles where my daughter plays and also I just like to make my way all around the library.


  1. This has been one of my favorite books ever since I first read it when I was around 8. It's one of those stories that you can grow up with and it will mean something different to you as you progress through different points in your life. I've also totally used the sheep-in-a-box trick when trying to entertain kids who think I have more artistic skill than I've ever possessed.

  2. That's really cool to get the perspective of someone who has read it multiple times over a number a years.

    I wonder...(if you don't mind sharing) what did this book mean to you at 8 years old? Do you recall? And what do you think of the illustrations now, compared to when you were younger?

  3. I agree with bookswithoutanypictures: I've read it several times and each time I get something else from it, probably because I was 11 when I read it for the first time and then it was all the way through my teenage years. It's definitely a story that learns you something depending on where you are in your life and what you feel like at that moment. That's why I love that book so much!

    When I was 11, I felt like this little guy was saying what I wanted to say to adults but also learning me how to understand them. I cried at the end (but I cry a little everytime I read the last page after reading the whole book so..). I found it really beautiful and poetic and it was like a blanket to a child, for me. I think it's still is a little bit.

    Anyway, I'm really glad you picked this one for the challenge! :)

    1. That's really cool, thanks for the insight.

      And I'm right there with you. Hate finishing a good book :)


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