Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review - A Little Princess

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Year: 1905

I've always enjoyed reading to my daughter and now to my son.  Even though they are quite young, just the act of reading aloud is both enjoyable & beneficial.  When she was a baby I would lay beside my daughter and read her The Chronicles of Narnia while she had tummy time.  During snack time I would read Animal Farm, just to have literature alive in the house, even if the concepts of the novels were lost.  Now, as both my children get older, they are beginning to appreciate these times even more & catch on to the wonderful stories that I'm reading.  We've covered a lot of classics; Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, The Secret Garden.  And it was the latter that opened my eyes to the greatness of Burnett, author of so many children's classics.  And now, after having read A Little Princess, I can say that it's one of the most beautifully written books for young people that I've ever read.

The main character of the story is Sarah Crewe, wealthy daughter of a single father, a Brit stationed in India.  Sarah leads a pampered life, and even when she moves to London to go to boarding school she is treated as a princess, with all the amenities she might need for a comfortable stay.  But when her father dies suddenly, Sarah find herself penniless & without a home.  Although she is not thrown out of school, she is only invited to stay as a worker, a slave in all respects who is treated worse than the paid servants.  And yet she never loses her dignity or her wild imagination, an ability that keeps her sane in the most desperate of times.  With the help of her friends Becky, Lottie, and Ermengarde, Sarah survives this dreadful turn of events & brings joy to the people around her, showing that no matter what she looks like she will always be a little princess.

What an amazingly simple and yet stunning book.  The concept isn't complicated and it's a perfectly easy story for children to understand, and yet there are so many undertones to the plot and to the character development of Sarah.  She is an optimist, a compassionate friend, a heroine who truly rises above any dire situation she finds herself in.  There are some pretty powerful lessons to be learned in this book, lessons about how we treat each other, how we take advantage of each other, and how hope is never completely lost.  It's just a great story and one that is written marvelously.  Burnett writes with beautiful language & precision, not wasting words and not over dramatizing everyday life.  The characters come to life in the way their speech is shown to us and we can imagine these girls & their lives; they become so real so quickly.  Not only is this an excellent children's book because of it's simplicity & relatable characters, but it can be enjoyed by adults as well because it is written so well & is full of deep meanings & wonderful messages.  I'm glad I had a reason to read the classic stories that I might otherwise have passed over and I recommend that you do the same.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

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