Fiction Fridays: The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)
I didn’t come across The Little Prince until middle school, when I started teaching myself French by reading the English and French version side by side. The Little Prince is both the most read and the most translated book in the French language, and for good reason. Next to Peter Pan, it is by favorite fairy tale (if you can even call it that) to read over and over even into adulthood.
The novella starts by introducing the reader to the narrator, a bad artist (by adult standards) who becomes a pilot and crashes into the Sahara desert. While the narrator is wandering around the desert he comes upon the little prince. The prince describes to the narrator, eventually (for this little man refuses to answer questions), the details about his home planet – B612. He talks about his volcanoes, his Baobab trees, and most importantly, the rose whom the little prince loves. By and by the prince tells of his interesting descent to Earth and the qualms he experiences with the snake and the wisdom he has received from the fox. By and large, the prince becomes concerned with making it home to his beloved rose until he believes he finds an answer.
The Little Prince is about love, trust, and the clarity of childhood. The entire book can be summed up by what the wise fox says to the little prince: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye”). A simple truth that rings clearly from childhood to old age.
The Little Prince has something for everyone – adventure, philosophy, and even a love story between a boy and his rose. It can help bring adults back to the simple reality of childhood and introduce children to the complexity of adulthood. It is a perfect family read, allowing children the chance to ask hard questions and adults time to observe, listen, and learn from their children.