Publisher: Harcourt Inc.Published: June 29, 2010 (originally published in 1943)Pages: 85Received: Own a copy of The Little Prince and desperate to own Le Petit PrinceOriginally Reviewed: as guest review for Book Junkies (before the stopped their book blog) in 2011 for Canuck WeekA pilot stranded in the desert awakes one morning to see, standing before him, the most extraordinary little fellow. "Please," asks the stranger, “draw me a sheep.” And the pilot realizes that when life's events are too difficult to understand, there is no choice but to succumb to their mysteries. He pulls out pencil and paper... And thus begins this wise and enchanting fable that, in teaching the secret of what is really important in life, has changed forever the world for its readers.
I chose this book because I've read it so many times as a child, teen and adult in both the original French version and the English translation. It's just a beautiful story – so full of love, life, friendship and the mysteries surrounding it all. I actually cannot believe I haven't written a book review on it sooner.
I loved that this stranded man meets such a quirky yet amiable character. He seems to actually learn a lot from the Little Prince all while working on fixing his plane so that he can finally make his way back home. I have to wonder sometimes if everything that happens in this book is completely a hallucination by the narrator since he is stuck in the desert with no food, little water and a broken plane to fix. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful story.
The narrator explains that as a child you can pretty much imagine anything from nothing, but adults need things broken down with details before they can understand it. "Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them." This brings us to the man drawing a sheep for the Little Prince – every attempt the man makes at drawing a sheep has the boy upset because one is too sick, one is too old and one is a ram and not a sheep at all. The man then draws a box with holes in it and tells the boy that this is the crate and the sheep is inside – the Little Prince laughs with excitement and knows that this is the sheep he wanted. How simple it is for children to see the things that are not visible to adults, because if the boy had drawn the box, the man may have just said it was a box and not a box holding a sheep.
The Little Prince's journey to Earth, from his tiny Asteroid B-612, is quite interesting in that he meets so many adults on many planets. All the adults are so serious all the time and absorbed in their work or themselves. The little boy thinks that grownups are strange. Grownups are strange indeed – we are always too busy with the things happening in our lives and we should slow down a little and enjoy the simple things in life like sunsets, flowers and stars – just like the Little Prince does.
The two relationships that I enjoyed the most in the story are between The Little Prince and his rose and The Little Prince and the fox.
First – the rose is such a proud, beautiful flower that she fears nothing (she has four thorns to protect her). The Little Prince cares for her with such love and tenderness even when she treats him poorly or speaks to him harshly. This makes me wonder about love and how easily some people give their love away without expecting anything in return, while others accept love more easily than they are able give it.
Second – the friendship between the fox and the prince is quite lovely – the fox explains that taming him would make them friends and that you can't buy friends – you need to make friends with others. The fox teaches the boy that you will always remember your friends in some way like how the golden wheat fields remind the fox the Little Prince's golden hair. The fox then tells the boy this secret: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
When I was little I just loved that the story was about a Little Prince who traveled through the universe to find friends and he met so many interesting characters. I was saddened when his rose was mean to him and happy when he made friends with the fox. I was interested in the story of the thousands of roses looking just like the Little Prince's rose, but not being the same because his rose was special to him because he loved her. I didn't realize back then how philosophical it could be or how touching it could be. Back then it was just a cute little story with pretty little illustrations inside. My how things change when you read the same book over and over through different ages.
The moral of the story comes down to that little quote from the fox – it doesn't matter what is on the outside, it's what's inside that counts – the invisible part.