Squeaking in at number 95 on the Top 100 Chapter Books list is the very-well-known The Little Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
What it’s about: A young prince lives on an asteroid that has three volcanoes, a rose and as many sunsets as one could desire. Our aviator narrator meets him here on Earth though, in the Sahara desert, after the aviator has crashed his plane. The two spend a couple of days together before the prince decides he needs to return home to tend his rose.
Age level: Grades 4-5
Best part: This is one of the most imaginative stories out there. It’s strange and beautiful and lyrical.
Worst part: This is one of the strangest stories out there.
I’ve always liked this story even though I come to different conclusions each time I read it. I do seem to forget how sad it is though. Z and I read it together once too when he was young and I think he was just confused by the time we finished. And I really think it’s more of a picture book/chapter book hybrid so does it deserve a spot on both sorts of lists or neither? I don’t really know. I wish that I could speak French so that I could read the original.
What is your experience with this story?
I’m going to be listening to Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo next week. I’ve read a couple of her books and enjoyed each one so I’m looking forward to my first time with this story.
Schedule – February through April
February 15 – #20 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000)
February 28 – #49 My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (1948)
March 15 – #39 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007)
March 30 – #5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
April 15 – #71 Each Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (2005)
April 30 – Spring Break
The Golden Compass (1995, Northern Lights in the U.K.) by Philip Pullman is number 28 on the Top 100 Chapter Books list. Sometimes I think that a series book is appropriately listed separately on the list because it’s either the best in the series or is a fantastic standalone. But, in cases like this one, I think that the book is likely a stand-in by voters for the entire series. The His Dark Materials series works best when all three books are read together and they are all rather good.
What it’s about: Lyra Belacqua is an orphan who lives at Jordan College in Oxford (in a world that is not quite ours), always accompanied by her daemon, Pantalaimon. In Lyra’s world, daemons are bosom companions (souls) that take animal form and are changeable when one is a child but choose a fixed form during puberty. Lyra spies one day on the leaders of Jordan College and her uncle, Lord Asriel, and finds out about an elementary particle called “dust” and about another world that exists across the Aurora Borealis. Lyra soon finds herself fighting against a sinister plot to change her world as she knows it, but she also finds that she isn’t alone when she gains assistance from some very unexpected companions.
Age level: Grade 5+
Best part: Lyra is simply amazing. She’s smart and capable and headstrong but she’s also human and she makes several very tough decisions and is willing to face the consequences to help others. Iorek Byrnison, Serafina Pekkala and Farder Coram are also outstanding characters with depth, flaws and very individual world views.
Worst part: This series is constantly challenged or banned. The reasons touch on politics, religion, and violence. The truth is that this is a book that encourages readers to question authority (especially religious and political authority), to make informed decisions based on science and fact, and to protect those things that are important parts of our core beings and our environment. The likely true reason for so many challenges is that Pullman is a secular humanist.
This was a reread for me and I did it on audiobook with a great full-cast version. I’m on the library waiting list now for the audiobook of The Subtle Knife, book two in the series because I can’t remember everything that comes next in the story. I loved this portion of the tale as much as I did when I read the series a few years back. The characters are so vivid and the plot is intense and compelling. It’s an incredibly thoughtful and substantial book which I’m sure dozens of students have analyzed over the years.
Next up is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This is a re-read for me and it’s a short story so I would like to spend a little time doing some background research and reading on the author along with reading the story itself. There will also be a movie coming out later this year so if anyone hasn’t read this and wants to join me, feel free!