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.
15 thoughts on “Childhood favourites: A Little Princess”
This is one of my favorite children’s classics; I read it over and over growing up. (And reread it again just last year!) Sara Crewe is one of my favorite little heroines. And her story has always resonated with me for some reason. Great post! 🙂
She’s such a great little heroine. In her gentle, kind way she takes no sh*t.
Sometimes the kid’s books make me cry the hardest! I could never figure out why my kids weren’t crying right along with me… I wondered if there was something wrong with them! But I have found that the older they get, the more likely they are to cry while reading or watching a movie. And now I hear my oldest quite frequently sniffing away.
Totally. I remember crying a lot reading Heidi too and thinking “but this is such a simple little story!” I think it’s because they are so pure and the kindness is motivated by just being kind. The older you get the rarer it is to see in real life so I think it just makes you more emotional.
I LOVE that your kids are starting to cry while they read! Excellent emotional intelligence there.
I was worried for a while… 🙂
The simplicity is really why I love reading children’s books, the ones between learning-to-read books and YA. How can you beat a message as simple and powerful as “do good”?
You just can’t. It’s the best. And totally what I needed.
I haven’t read this in so many years but recently uncovered my copy. I can’t wait to make my daughter sit down and read with me. I might have to find the Shirley Temple version at the library too.
I’ve never seen the Shirley Temple version but I might have to watch it. I saw that the whole thing was on YouTube so maybe that’s an even easier way to watch it.
I reread this one a few years ago and really enjoyed it as well. Its spine is a steep slope because I reread it often as a girl. On last reading I was most impressed by her determination and the alliance(s) she makes (being vague to avoid spoilers) When I was a kid, I never read The Secret Garden (only as an adult). Have you read any of her others?
She’s totally determined! I don’t think I appreciated that as much when I read it as a kid.
I’ve read The Secret Garden but none of her other work. I went to look at her other work thanks to your comment – I had no idea she had written so much!
I’ve heard so many good things about The Making of a Marchioness in particular. For adults, but still charming apparently!
How old were you when you first read this book? This was another one that my great-grandma have to me that I couldn’t read because the sentences and vocab were too hard, much like my experience with Anne of Green Gables, which I wrote about extensively last summer.
Mmmm probably about 10 or 11. I was a weird kid though, I was reading Mark Twain the summer I was 10, Pride and Prejudice for the first time when I was 11. I think every kid is different and that’s why it’s so important to have lots of different options available for kids to practice. The more you read, the better you get, you know?
I’m going to have to check out your Anne posts! Are you reading Emily of New Moon with Naomi?
No, mainly because I just read 8 Anne books, lol. The posts for Anne start here: https://grabthelapels.com/2016/07/25/green-gables/