Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sara Crew and her father are very close, neither of them like the idea of Sara going to boarding school but it is a social convention that must be followed. A very intelligent, imaginative, and odd child Sara almost instantly makes an enemy of the headmistress Miss Minchin. Sara's father instructs the headmistress that Sara is to have every luxury and comfort, and Miss Minchin follows his request because of his fabulous wealth. On the day of Sara's eleventh birthday news comes that her father is dead and that his fortune is lost. Far from being compassionate Miss Minchin decides to treat Sara like a servant or worse. For three long years Sara lives in the attic of her school and tries to imagine away hunger, cold, and fatigue. Little things start to change in Sara's attic and she believes it is a magician who is helping her. Finally it is revealed that her fortune was not lost and that the "magician" who had been helping her was a close friend of her father's that had been searching for her in vain for many years.

This was my favorite book when I was in fifth grade. I must have read it ten times one summer. I would finish it and then start it over again immediately because I loved it so much. I think what I liked about it then was that Sara was intelligent and imaginative. The book does mention that she is pretty but in an odd way and it was her intelligence and imagination that were her better qualities. I liked having a main character that was smart. I also loved all the wonder that was in the book. Even when things were terrible for Sara she still tried to make them better by telling stories or even just helping others. There is something magical in the stories Sara tells herself and others.

The story is masterfully told and it should be no surprise that I also loved A Secret Garden by Burnett. I was pleased to find that there are many free versions of this book online to either download or read on your computer screen as well as a few free audio versions of the book. In addition to that you can watch most of 1995 movie on YouTube in about eight installments. I did like both the 1939 and 1995 movie although they both took some liberties with the story I think they did capture the essence of the novel. I highly recommend this classic to girls ages 7-12.


  1. I adored this film - the 1995 version anyway - so I really should pick up the book at some point!

  2. You will not be disappointed it is a great read, a bit darker than the movie if only because the time line is a bit longer for Sara to be rescued from Miss Minchin.