Children’s Book Review: “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943)

Perhaps among the all-time most highly regarded fables of the world, The Little Prince somehow sat dusty on my crowded bookshelf for years, at least until I found it on my most eclectic Chinese friend’s list of favorites novels. From that point on, I finally felt like I had to give it try. This pleasant little tale is wisely told from an adult’s point of view. I say “wisely,” because despite his age, this unique adult understands children and dislikes other adults as much as most imaginative, raucous children must, so his story appeals to an audience as vast as the spectrum of age.

I admit from the outset that it would likely take me several reads-through to grasp all of de Saint-Exupery’s many angles: the businessman and the king, the tipster and the lamp-lighter, etc. Why exactly does he chose these particular professions to tease? It may be something French that I’m just not getting—lost in translation or in the culture—but his book is as overtly satirical as any fable I’ve ever read, which is striking, since he appears to have written the tale directly for children. His repetition of the boa constrictor story was my favorite, and I can’t think of much else in literature that compares with it. As imaginative as a person can be, he would always need just an ounce more imagination to nail down that boa constrictor tale, for that short bit alone has an unnatural load of metaphors for the differences between adults and children. The boa constrictor story itself could have been that for which the de Saint-Exupery received his fame and fortune, so although I still believe the entire book deserves multiple reads-through, it was a thoroughly pleasant read that will take any reader with just a hint of imagination back to his childhood, if but briefly. I highly recommend it.

©2015 E.T.

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