Thursday, July 22, 2010

July is Classic books month on TTLG - Day ten

A little princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my favorite books. It made me sad every time I read it, and yet I always felt uplifted when I came to the end. Though some good films have been made of the book, none really capture the magic of this memorable story. 

Frances Hodgson Burnett
Illustrator:Tasha Tudor
Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
HarperCollins, 1991   ISBN: 978-0064401876
Sara Crewe is the kind of little girl who catches your attention when you see her. With her bright green eyes and thick black hair,  she is not pretty in the traditional sense, but there is something about her that is special. She is the daughter of a very rich young man, and now the time has come for her to go to school in England. She is not very keen on attending Miss Minchin's School for Girls, but this is what her Papa wishes and Sara will do anything her Papa asks of her.
   So Sara begins her schooling, and her poor Papa returns to India heart-sore and lonely without his precious little girl to be his "little missus." Sara quickly makes friends in her new home, taking the littlest child, the slowest child, and a servant girl called Becky under her warm and loving wing. The others flock to her to hear Sara's wonderful stories, for Sara loves to tell stories about magic, far of places, and princesses.  Sara always tries to behave like a princess, showing dignity, respect for others, and kindness.
Then the unthinkable happens - Sara's father dies of fever and she is left penniless. Miss Minchin, who never liked Sara, turns the little orphan into a skivvy, and she also uses Sara to teach the smaller children. Sara discovers what it is like to be servant, and now she and her friend Becky are just the same. And yet, as Becky and some of the other children see, Sara is still a little princess and she is still as giving and generous, even though she has so little of her own. Often cold, tired and hungry, Sara struggles on, being the princess and doing her best not to give in to her grief and despair. Often her stories help her and Becky when things are particularly bad. The girls imagine warm clothes, hot food, soft beds, and a crackling fire as they snuggle up together up in the freezing attic rooms in Miss Minchin's school.
   Then something truly remarkable happens and Sara begins to wonder if it is possible for stories and dreams to come true after all.
   First published in 1905, this incredibly moving story has not lost any its power over the years. Sara and her adventures are still as real and as fascinating as they were at the turn of the century. Readers will be shocked to see how servants were treated back then, and will be grateful that some things have changed for the better. The wonderful, seemingly magical, good fortune that finds Sara is thrilling, and will have younger readers begging to hear the story all over again.

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