A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Illustrated by Tasha Tudor
Originally published in 1905
Source: our copy belongs to Miss H
Set in 19th century London, a little girl goes from riches to rags and back again. Sara Crewe is delivered by her wealthy, doting father to a boarding school for young ladies in London. Raised in tropical India, she finds London a strange place. And Miss Minchin, the owner of the school, is cold and meanspirited. Sara, who is kindhearted and intelligent as well as fabulously wealthy, quickly becomes the reigning "princess" of the school. When her father suddenly dies penniless back in India, Miss Minchin forces her to work as a servant. Despite being treated cruelly, Sara retains her dignity and her kind ways, showing herself to be a true princess.
This isn't the first time I've talked about this book, it was one of my favorite books as a young girl and it will always hold a special place in my heart. In fact, when Miss H was born, it was one of the first books we gave her because she was, after all, our very own princess the minute she arrived.
I read it to her when she was a little girl but then the movie came along and the details of the book got lost in the details of the movie adaptation that came out the same year she was born. It really is a wonderful movie but, as movies do, it left out some things that were important in the book while shifting the focus to other things. Seriously, if you have a little girl, watch it. But read the book, too.
When I was making my list for the Classics Club Challenge in 2012, I included A Little Princess because I wanted to reacquaint myself with the details of the book I grew up loving. You know what? I still love it. I love the story, I love the writing, and I love Sara Crewe. Most of all, I love the lessons it teaches young girls - it's okay to be smart, attitude is everything, dreams make life better, be grateful for what you have, and, above all, always behave as if you are a princess. Not in an entitled, everyone-should-do-what-I-want way. For Sara, being a princess means being proud not haughty, being at all times civil, being polite not rude or malicious no matter what those around you do or say. Sara never let her circumstances drag her down to the level of those who would belittle or demean her and she never forgot that there were others who were worse off than she was.