It’s rare for me to re-read anything that doesn’t involve Hogwarts or wasn’t written by Jane Austen or one of the Brontes. There are just too many books that I want to get to before I die.
There’s something to be said for re-reading a book that you love. And in the present climate, I make the case for embracing those little things that bring you joy.
Enter: A Little Princess.
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1905 book about a little girl at a boarding school who suddenly finds herself an orphan bereft of her fortune was a delight the first time I read it. I will admit freely that the 1995 movie has always been a favourite too – that rare bird that captures the essence of a great book (despite the liberties they took with at least one major plot point).
And thankfully, I still loved the book. I might have loved it more this time. Sara Crewe is so good and her belief that all are worthy of love and respect ripples out towards all she encounters. Her good deeds are multiplied as she inspires others to pay it forward. Even when she is at the mercy of Miss Minchin, who is determined to punish Sara for being left on her hands without a fortune, Sara tries to put on a cheerful face, to look out for those who are worse off than she is.
Sara is never cowed by the bad things that happen to her or around her. She befriends a rat in the cold, bare attic because he’s probably just as scared of her as she is of him. A RAT. When a little boy gives her a sixpence, she keeps it as a talisman to remind herself that there is good in the world, even though she could use it to buy bread when she’s hungry.
I’m not sure that this message of kindness struck me quite so forcefully the first time I read it. I was likely more focused on the romance of a boarding school and the twist that restores Sara to her rightful place as a ‘princess.’ But this time, Sara’s kindness really resonated with me and brought me intense comfort. I admit freely that this little book, marketed towards readers aged 9-12, reduced me to tears in the end.
I so appreciate the simplicity and the purity of a children’s book that intends to show its readers how to be kind. No matter what your circumstances, you can afford to be kind.
If you’re in need of something quick and uplifting, read A Little Princess. It’ll do you good.