For the 2019 Reading Challenge, where I was supposed to be selecting a book to read to a child, I had chosen to (re)read the famed French story The Little Prince.
This poetic tale is of a little boy who strikes out on his own and begins to understand the world through his encounters with various adults in extraordinary places.
The story is philosophical and includes social criticism of the adult world. The lessons and moralistic points cloaked as simple observations are brilliant and are poignant enough to make you stop and think about how absurd somethings ‘adults’ do or believe really are.
“Why are you drinking? – the little prince asked.
– In order to forget – replied the drunkard.
– To forget what? – inquired the little prince, who was already feeling sorry for him.
– To forget that I am ashamed – the drunkard confessed, hanging his head.
– Ashamed of what? – asked the little prince who wanted to help him.
– Ashamed of drinking! – concluded the drunkard, withdrawing into total silence.
And the little prince went away, puzzled.
‘Grown-ups really are very, very odd’, he said to himself as he continued his journey.”
“I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: ‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man – he is a mushroom!”
The writing is eloquent and carries both weight and sincerity, the prose is gorgeous. It easily pulled at my heart-strings and sang to me. I am easily able to carry around in my heart full sentences and statements that permanently have etched themselves on my soul.
At a time when so much of what is happening in the world seems to make no sense, this precious story evokes childhood creativity, curiosity, innocence and a sense of adventure — reminding the reader to be young at heart, to question everything and take time to look at the stars.
“It’s all a great mystery…Look up at the sky and you’ll see how everything changes”