The Little Prince is a novella that was first published in 1943. It is the most famous work of French writer Antoine De Saint-Exupéry. The story is about a young alien prince who has fallen to earth, and through it Exupéry explores ideas of friendship, love, loss, and other meaningful themes. At the start of the story, the narrator explains that, when he was a child, he drew a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.
He showed the picture to grown-ups, as children often do, but instead of seeing the picture as he drew it, they thought the picture was of a hat. When he tried to explain what the drawing really was, he was dismissed and told that he should take up a more important hobby. Early on, there is a theme that adults do not understand the creative ideas of children.
Fast forward to the future, and the narrator has grown up. He is a pilot, and one day, his plane crashes in the middle of the Sahara Desert. He is nowhere near civilization, so he is surprised to be greeted by a young boy he refers to as “the little prince.” The little prince asks the narrator to draw a picture of a sheep. The confused narrator agrees to do this, but first shows him the drawing of the elephant inside of the snake that he had drawn many years ago. The little prince interprets the picture correctly, and the narrator is surprised that someone finally understands his drawing.
While the narrator attempts to repair his plane, the little prince recounts the story of his life. He says he is from a small planet (the size of an asteroid) that is far away. When he was on his planet, he enjoyed watching sunsets and taking care of a rose he loved very much. Though, he did feel the rose was vain and taking advantage of him, and so he decided to go on a journey to explore the rest of the universe. The prince visits six other small planets, and on each one he meets a narrow-minded adult. Each planet allows the prince to learn new things about the universe and about himself.
Eventually, he makes it to Earth. He lands in the desert, where he has different encounters with a snake, a flower, a fox, and then the pilot. Back in the present moment, the narrator is still trying to fix his plane, but is dying of thirst. Fortunately, he and the prince are able to find a well. The prince begins to feel guilty about leaving his beloved rose to fend for herself, and he wishes to return home. The prince is sad to say goodbye to the narrator, but tells him he only needs to look to the stars to know that the prince is there.
This novella is one of the most beloved stories in the world, and for good reason. It is relatable, magical, and filled with child-like wonder. The narrator’s drawing of the snake digesting an elephant, and the way grown-ups misunderstood it and thought it was a hat, is one of the more popular moments in this book. It’s so relatable because everyone has had those moments where they have been misunderstood, and consequently discouraged. This moment happens within the first two pages of the book. One of the many reasons to love this book is that it leaves an impact on the reader right away.
The narrator is relatable in the sense that he has been misunderstood. The prince brings such happiness and imagination to the story, but he is also relatable because we learn that he has been lonely. Through the prince’s travels, the reader meets an egotistical man, a drunkard, a businessman, a lamplighter, and an elderly geographer. Lessons about friendship are learned from a fox, and the prince and the narrator learn from each other simply by listening to one another. This book is also great because of its lovely illustrations.
This is a story that stays in readers’ hearts long after they finish reading. It is a story about love, understanding, loneliness, sadness, and friendship. This book is sure to touch readers of all ages, during all seasons of life. It makes readers think, and also makes them feel understood.