A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This was another one of those old childhood favorites. Like The Secret Garden it’s a story I read a few times when I was little. I started out (as with The Secret Garden) with a Scholastic Picture Book version of the story. The illustrations drew me in, but the story is what held me.
There were certain scenes during this reread that I remembered but details that I had forgotten. It was like visiting a beloved location from my childhood, it didn’t take long to be reminded why I had fallen in love in the first place.
Sara is not a spectacular beauty, which is something I love. The author stresses her unique looks many times, the thing that glows for her is her kindness, caring and pride. She is a little soldier and a little princess — and those two things compliment each other to create a strong, caring, and determined.
She is such a great character. She holds true to herself no matter what obstacle she encounters, even when it is a struggle, with a wisdom beyond her years. I didn’t always understand her wisdom when I was first reading it — like her reaction to being told that she will have to work for her living.
“Can I work?… If I can work it will not matter so much.”
Before I had the experience of grief I had no idea the power of this sentence, but now I understood that drive, that need to do something that can take your mind off of what happened. This little girl who is so observant, so giving, so loving, just knows that working will be a welcome thing.
“She is always sitting with her little nose burrowing into books. She doesn’t read them, Miss Minchin; she gobbles them up as if she were a little wolf instead of a little girl. She is always startving for new books to gobble, and she wants grown-up books — great, bit, fat ones– French and German as well as English– history and biography and poets, and all sorts of things.”
-A Little Princess
Her storytelling, though, that is what sticks with me the most. It draws me in as it draws in everyone around her. Reading it as an adult I realize that it may be where I got some of the very basic seeds of my belief that everyone is an artist. She see’s the world as being full of stories; everyone has a story they are telling.
She reads stories in books, she pulled stories from the world around her, she found stories in the way people went through their lives. Even when everything was taken from her and her world came crashing down she still found stories all around her.
Really, in many ways it was her stories that helped to pull through the challenges. Her stories and her pride. I enjoy the plot, but what I really got from the story (at least this time around) was the theme of the storytelling. This is a story about the stories we tell, the stories we project to the world. Everyone has a story they are telling, if they know it or not.