The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Book Review: Moving classic

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s children’s classic (for all ages) is about our responsibility to live good lives.

Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Book ReviewThe Little Prince Book Synopsis  

Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. It comes third in the top five most translated books in the world, at around 300 translations.

Richard Howard’s new translation of the beloved classic — published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s birth — beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry’s unique and gifted style. Howard has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this new edition has been restored to match in detail and in colour Saint-Exupéry’s original artwork. It will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.

Genre: Classic, Children, Literature

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The Little Prince (not to be confused with Conor Brennan’s equally charming memoir Little Princes) is one of those classics that I’d always wanted to read but not got around to until now. There is a certain mystique about it, mirrored by that of the author Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s own life story.

Although I read it in ebook format I made sure it was one that featured Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s original illustrations. I am so glad I did this because while the text itself conveys great wisdom, in my opinion the author’s illustrations take his intended message to a whole other level.

As with all children’s stories that become classics, The Little Prince contains much, if not more, value for an adult reader. For example, we are reminded that we need to put up with a few caterpillars if we want to get to know butterflies.

In addition to being cute and whimsical for children, the relative proportions within the illustrations really help focus the more adult satire.

little prince planet
king planet
lamplighter planet

This is in part a recounted tale of The Little Prince’s journey from one tiny planet to the next and his interactions with different adults, such as a king, a businessman, a geographer, and a lamplighter. Through this character’s direct and untainted child-like outlook, de Saint-Exupery has a none too subtle dig at the ‘grown-up’ thinking and futility of each’s circumstance.

It is much harder to judge yourself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself, it’s because you are a truly wise man.

But it is The Little Prince’s interaction with the book’s narrator who has crashed in the desert, that is a moving reminder of help being found in the most unlikely of places if only we open our minds to it. And, that the roles of the ‘helper’ and ‘helpee’ can often be reversed.

At its heart this story is about our responsibility to live good lives. I strongly recommend this very worthy children’s classic to readers of all ages.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

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“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” – The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

About the Author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY (1900-1944) was born in Lyons, France. He took his first flight at the age of eleven, and became a pilot at twenty-six. He was a pioneer of international commercial aviation and flew in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His writings include The Little Prince; Wind, Sand and Stars; and Southern Mail. In 1944, while serving with his French air squadron, he disappeared during a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean.

More children’s literature that resonates with all ages:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle  /  The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey  /  The Flute Player by Shawn Mihalik  /  Tales by Trees – The Carpenter  /  The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang

This review counts towards my participation in the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015.