This children’s novel tells the story of the author meeting an alien prince after crash landing in the Sahara desert, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Often I read children’s literature and I enjoy it, but I find it to be missing a certain level of emotional depth that I need as an adult, and The Little Prince is the perfect example of how children’s literature doesn’t have to be that way. It’s extremely deep and meaningful.
On his way to the Earth, the Prince encounters various characters who inhabit their own little worlds – these include a king who rules over nothing, and a businessman who wants to own all the stars, among many others. Each of them represents one of the less pleasant aspects of humanity, and the Prince, as an outsider, highlights how ridiculous all of these things are. He has a childlike innocence to him, and his perspectives are untainted by the less wholesome values of many ‘adult’ eyes.
The Prince’s visits to all the tiny little planets are rather strange when put in the context of the much more grounded element of meeting the author crashed in the desert. In a way though, this works well too. It helps make the Prince’s existence feel more removed from our own, and underlines that his reality is one where love and childlike logic rule, rather than adult rationality.
As the author worries about what’s going to happen if he can’t get his plane working and leave the desert, The Prince is more worried about the rose that he loves at home. A lot of the time, children are told that the things they think and feel are not important, and that the interests of adults are what really matter – this book turns that on its head, but making The Prince’s perspective the one that’s really important.
The Little Prince is ultimately a book that’s about loving people, and appreciating them (and the world around you) and I love this little alien character for embodying such beautiful ideals. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it was really moving. The whole book is so wonderfully written, and a reminder of what really matters in this life. (This is based on the translation by Ros and Chloe Schwarz).