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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first publishedThe Little Princein 1943, only a year before his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean during a reconnaissance mission. More than a half century later, this fable of love and loneliness has lost none of its power. The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert, frantically trying to repair his wrecked plane. His efforts are interrupted one day by the apparition of a little, well, prince, who asks him to draw a sheep. "In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don't dare disobey," the narrator recalls. "Absurd as it seemed, a thousand miles from all inhabited regions and in danger of death, I took a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket." And so begins their dialogue, which stretches the narrator's imagination in all sorts of surprising, childlike directions.

The Little Prince describes his journey from planet to planet, each tiny world populated by a single adult. It's a wonderfully inventive sequence, which evokes not only the great fairy tales but also such monuments of postmodern whimsy as Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. And despite his tone of gentle bemusement, Saint-Exupéry pulls off some fine satiric touches, too. There's the king, for example, who commands the Little Prince to function as a one-man (or one-boy) judiciary:

I have good reason to believe that there is an old rat living somewhere on my planet. I hear him at night. You could judge that old rat. From time to time you will condemn him to death. That way his life will depend on your justice. But you'll pardon him each time for economy's sake. There's only one rat.
The author pokes similar fun at a businessman, a geographer, and a lamplighter, all of whom signify some futile aspect of adult existence. Yet his tale is ultimately a tender one--a heartfelt exposition of sadness and solitude, which never turns intoPeter Pan-style treacle. Such delicacy of tone can present real headaches for a translator, and in her1943 translation, Katherine Woods sometimes wandered off the mark, giving the text a slightly wooden or didactic accent. Happily, Richard Howard (who did a fine nip-and-tuck job on Stendhal'sThe Charterhouse of Parmain 1999) has streamlined and simplified to wonderful effect. The result is a new and improved version of an indestructible classic, which also restores the original artwork to full color. "Trying to be witty," we're told at one point, "leads to lying, more or less." But Saint-Exupéry's drawings offer a handy rebuttal: they're fresh, funny, and like the book itself, rigorously truthful.--James Marcus
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review by . July 05, 2010
"The Little Prince" is in my top 5 reads of all time, and I'm an English teacher, so one can imagine how much I read.      Antoine de Saint-Exupery penned a timeless tale of love in reflection in the guise of a beautifully illustrated children's story. At the heart of the story is the painful lesson learned by one who had love but did not understand at the time. Sadness and regret permeate the hidden story beneath the words. Children will have fun meeting crazy …
review by . June 17, 2010
Slight spoiler alert...Matters of consequence! The grownups are only concerned with matters of consequence. But what really is consequential? What's the point of owning the stars of the sky? They're there for everyone to enjoy. What's the point of a pill that saves you 20 minutes by getting rid of your thirst?   Of course what's really important are the people we love--the people we choose to spend our time with. What else could be more important? Saint-Exupery boils down …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
Sad whimsy. Interesting in the French original. Got some quaint and often melancholic moments.
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Such a fun story. Reminds me of my years in High School French.
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
This is one of the best educational children's book. If you really want to have a diligent child, read this book for him... you can also read something else and maybe they will learn to try green eggs.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
"The essential is invisible to the eye. Only the heart can see clearly." - the essence of the book. I've held on to this book for decades
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
A charming tale of learning "what is important is invisible to the eye." Some of the best life lessons to learn come from this book. Share it with the child within you. It's even better when you read it aloud -- to yourself or another. Be charmed!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Le Petit Prince is such a good story!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
This is a beautiful book.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
I remember this from French class!
The Little Prince
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