7th July 2015

A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess

by by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Originally published in 1905, this accessible chapter book still resonates today because of its fundamental theme of human virtue. The intelligent and kind protagonist is Sara, an “odd” girl of seven, always dreaming, reading and displaying a great maturity beyond her years. She is our heroine and despite her change in circumstances, including moving from India to an uninspiring British boarding school run by the cold and greedy Miss Minchin, then the subsequent death of her father which leads to poverty and her maltreatment, Sara maintains her integrity. Always displaying empathy, great kindness, strength, love, hope and an amazing imagination, we the reader, are always rooting for her. In fact, when I first read the book, I hoped to be just like Sara if I ever found myself in dire straits.

The fairytale ending is incredibly satisfying. Although we know life in reality can sometimes be hard, cruel and unfair, Sara’s serendipitous meeting with the very people looking for her, the promised return of her fortune, status, safety and love gives the reader hope that a good and true heart will eventually be rewarded. When the heartless Miss Minchin is finally challenged and even her docile sister turns against her, all seems right again in the world. But we, through Sara’s eyes, have experienced the extremities of the human heart, great kindness and also great cruelty, which should leave no reader unmoved.

 

Fundamentally, it’s a morality story which has been told many times by many authors, but in my opinion, not so beautifully or perfectly suited for young readers as in A Little Princess.

Reviewed by Mrs Mahmood

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