Wednesday, June 17, 2009

REVIEW: The Little Prince

De Saint-Exupery, A.  (2007).  The Little Prince.  New Delhi:  Heritage Publishers.




After he has to make an unscheduled stop to repair his airplane in the Sahara Desert, an unnamed narrator encounters a lonely Little Prince who is visiting the planet.  Over the time that it takes the narrator, who is both child-like and has similar experiences to the author, to fix his plane he and the Little Prince talk and the narrator eventually learns of the prince’s journeys.


Throughout much of the text there is a sense of “us vs. them” between children and adults.  This is an aspect that many children will latch onto as being humorous.  I, myself, (perhaps as an adult *gasp*) grew tired of critique after critique of various adult jobs.   But this part of the text (roughly chapters 10 to 15) could be a way to jump into having students write their own (hopefully more positive) descriptions of their family members’ jobs.


This book includes a lot of quotable language and has illustrations that are recognizable to this book.  It explores issues of perspective, innocence, friendship, individuality, loneliness, etc.



Activities to do with the book:


Students could create their own drawings of asteroids, planets and animals (or even hats) in response to the text.  And a teacher could give a lesson on astronomy and the Earth's rotation.


Also, since the narrator was discouraged by grown-ups responses to his art when he was six-years-old, a teacher could have a tentative discussion about hopes for the future and never giving up, despite what others say.  (A teacher could even bring in Langston Hughes’s “Dreams” poem.


Since The Little Prince feels lonely and friendless throughout much of the story, a teacher could also begin a discussion on how to handle feelings of loneliness or how to make new friends.


For older middle-grade students, a teacher could also consider the way that the different adults living on the various asteroids the Little Prince visits are portrayed and why.  It is worth noting, one of the adults featured is an alcoholic, so a teacher could discuss substance abuse as an illness to help create a sense of sympathy and understanding instead of immediate judgements.


Also, students could listen to an audio track of a portion of the book in French to trigger young readers to take an interest in learning a second language.



Favorite Quotes:


“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” (p. 3).


“But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps.  You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like…” (p. 24).


“Is the warfare between the sheep and the flowers not important?  Is this not of more consequence than a fat red-faced gentleman’s sums?  And if I know—I, myself—one flower which is unique in the world, which grows nowhere but on my planet, but which one little sheep can destroy in a single bite some morning, without even noticing what he is doing—Oh!  You think that is not important!” (pp. 28-29).


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