What I am enjoying the most about reading other people’s favorite books is that they are basically falling into two categories — those that are new favorites for me and those that I can appreciate even if I don’t necessarily fall in love with them. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is one that I hadn’t read before (though admittedly I had seen the 1995 film version, directed by Alfonso Cuarón). I am happy to say that this book has absolutely become a new favorite! Though published as a novel in 1905, it was originally serialized in 1888. It’s a surprisingly strong story with a wide variety of characters. Even though I read it on my iPhone (which is awkward to say the least), I couldn’t put it down.
What it’s about: Young Sara Crewe is brought by her father from India to England to attend a boarding school. While there, she experiences everything from the heights of adoration to the depths of despair. In every situation, friendship comes from unexpected people and she remains the bright and tender child that she was when she arrived.
Age level: Grades 3-6
Best part: There were so many things to like in this book. Sara has a wonderful imagination and she is able to cope with even the worst situations by simply imagining it to be otherwise. Though this could have been annoying in a Pollyanna sort of way, it instead seemed noble and wise beyond her years. I also really enjoyed FHB’s depiction of Indian natives. Sara has such respect for the people and their culture and the one Indian who comes to London is intelligent and kind and friendly. And I really liked the treatment of animals in this book, as Sara makes friends with the rats in the attic, the sparrows on the roof, and even the monkey next door.
Worst part: I wasn’t immediately drawn into the story because FHB has a strange, irritating, repetitive way of using three adjectives when one would have certainly done just as well. She backs off of it after a bit but it was jarring while it lasted.
It’s strange to say but I think I might like this book more than The Secret Garden or at least equally as much. The odious characters in Princess are probably more odious than anyone in Garden but the lovely people (children mostly) were somehow more lovely. This was #56 on the list and Garden was #15 but I think this could easily be because many readers have read one and not the other.
Have you read A Little Princess? Did you love it?
I have a few books ahead of me that I have never read before so this should add some excitement to the holiday season! Feel free to join me on any of them.