The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Expéry
A pilot is stuck in the middle of the Sahara desert after his plane went down. He’s hundreds of miles from the nearest town, with only eight days’ worth of water. When a boy appears and asks him to draw a sheep, he’s understandably frazzled. The Little Prince, as the narrator calls the child, comes from a little planet far away and has wound up on Earth. He describes his home planet to the narrator, with its three tiny volcanoes and a precious, beautiful flower The Little Prince loves more than anything else. He also discusses many of the small planets he visited on his way to Earth, each of which is populated by a single individual who personifies the problems with “adults” and their way of thinking.
This must be to French children what The Giving Tree is to American children. On the surface, it’s a simple story to entertain children. But an older reader will pick upon the philosophy and deeper meanings behind the story. Depending on the reader, the interpretation of the story can seem sweet (the Little Prince’s dedication to his rose is like that of a lover) or disturbing (the author attacks technological innovation and discourages learning) or dark (the Little Prince gets back to his planet by “dying” at the end of the story). However you view it, it’s a story you can read again and again, taking something new from it each time.
I’m rather bummed that it took me this long to encounter The Little Prince. I mean, I’ve known of it since at least second grade, but I never got around to reading it until now, and I loved it. The whole first chapter, where the author talks about drawing a boa constrictor only have adults tell him it looks like a hat, reminded me of a time when I made a snake out of papier-mâché with a big bump in the middle because it had just eaten a rat (I even had a tail hanging out of the snake’s mouth) and everyone kept asking me why my snake had a hump like a camel. Follow that with the author’s discouragement as an artist, and let’s just say that I really identified with him. Now that I’m an adult, and have trouble relating to children, I can’t help but feel sad, because I’ve lost that magical something that I think Saint-Exupéry was trying to capture in The Little Prince.
Maybe I’m thinking about it too much. All I know is that I loved this book.
5 out of 5 stars