Zeek's Reviews > A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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's review
Jan 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites-all-time, children-books, fiction, literary, kindle

The story begins with little Sara Crewe traveling from the life she’s always known living in India with her beloved Father, Captain Crewe, to be schooled like all proper British girls in London. Her father is loathe to let her go but knows he must for her own good. Almost immediately upon arrival, Sara sees quite clearly with her wise beyond her years insight that Miss Minchin, the proprietor of the school, is not a fair lady, although she hides it well enough. Just as immediately, Sara gets the reputation of being a little princess as her father lavishly buys cloths, dolls and comfortable living quarters. But Sara is not the spoiled child you might think her to be, no- quite the opposite. She could have cared less for all the finery if only to stay with her Papa, but of course society says otherwise and far too quickly she is left behind.

Miss Minchin doesn’t make it easy for Sara, of course, but because she values Sara’s money, she plays along with Captain Crewe’s desires of spoiling the child- even when Sara unintentionally repeatedly reveals with her calm spirit that she is far more clever than the mean-spirited proprietress of the boarding school. Then, on the very day of Sara’s 11th birthday, news arrive that her father has passed away, and not only that- all of his money is lost as well.

Miss Minchin, feeling as if tricked into covering Sara’s expenses- expenses assured to be covered by the wealthy Captain Crewe- Miss Minchin takes out her wrath on the grieving child and makes her the drudge of the school, a step only slighter higher than the scullery maid Becky, whom Sara has befriended.

For years Sara suffers under the control of Minchin, doing all the tasks the servants don’t want to do, going to bed starving and cold each night.

But, try as she might, Miss Minchin couldn’t bring the clever girl down to the lowered station she thought she deserved to be in. For Sara Crewe was an expert at bolstering herself with imaginations.

When Minchin was at her worst, Sara’s proud spirit pretended she was soldier on a long and weary march. When given nothing but crumbs she shared it with her friend Mechezzidek, the rat who lived in the wall whom Sara pretended had a large family to take care of. No matter how hungry- she gave. She gave stories to a forlorn student whom the other students looked down upon for being fat and stupid and gave unheard of friendship to Becky, a mere scullery maid, who stayed in the room in the attic right next to her. She even gave away a boon she fell upon quite by accident one day while running errands- all because she believed a true Princess, like the one she imagined herself to be, is not one to complain or take things for herself when aid is needed for the populace.

One day the school becomes abuzz with the news that a wealthy man is moving next door and Sara in her clever mind quickly assigns a story to him to entertain herself in the hours after her drudgery is over, to keep her mind off her hunger. Her curiosity is even more aroused when she meets the wealthy man’s native Indian man servant and his pet monkey one evening when the monkey escapes into her attic window.

Ram Dass, the man servant, is struck by the bright child, and from that moment on, watches with silent eyes and ears every kind thing Sara does and eventually brings it to the wealthy man’s attention. Sensing they can help her, The wealthy neighbor and Ram Dass determine to bless the girl who gives so much yet is treated so poorly- Ram Dass because he knows exactly what’s going on, the wealthy man because the child reminds him of another young girl he lost and is desperate to find.

One evening Sara, possibly at her coldest and hungriest, welcomes her friend Ermengarde into her room. Ermengarde finally realizing how the kindest person in her world is being treated, promptly decides to share a basket sent to her from home, stuffed with treats and food. Delighted Sara arranges the room as a secret surprise for Ermengarde and Becky, while Ermengarde leaves to retrieve the food. When the girls gather together, Sara transports the little group as if by magic to a grand ballroom prepared for a feast, all the while staying in their drab little room. It’s a wondrous time for all the girls, trying with all the might to imagine the beautiful room right along with Sara.

Of course the evil Miss Minchin ruins it.

But perhaps she wouldn’t have been so adamant in putting the little princess in her place if she knew that her actions would become the catalyst for Sara to be blessed beyond her own very vivid imagination.

I would have loved this story as a kid, but I love it even more now. I’ve always loved a heroine I can root for and a villain I can despise- and this story delivers them! Sara is exactly the kind of girl I admired growing up and one I longed to be. Clever, pretty, just a bit odd but oh so noble. Yeah I never quite attained such nobility nor cleverness and prettiness, but I wanted to and that’s saying something I guess. :)

I was totally engaged while listening to this story and I cant wait to share it with my nieces! I highly recommend it as an entertaining read but also as a good reminder for every child- if we imagine ourselves as noble princesses- even even though the world sees us as beggars- one day we may become one… in spirit if not in truth!
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Reading Progress

January 6, 2011 – Started Reading
January 6, 2011 – Shelved
January 6, 2011 –
4.0% "Been wanting to read this since Wesley read it to Fred. (Somehow I missed it as a kid). I can tell I'm not going to be disappointed! :)"
January 6, 2011 –
4.0% "I dont think I'm going to like Miss Minchin much."
January 6, 2011 –
10.0% "Omy, I love Sara Crewe."
January 11, 2011 –
27.0% "uh oh- I sense destitution around the corner. This is gonna kill me."
January 11, 2011 –
31.0% "huh boy. its like a Michael Landon episode. :("
January 11, 2011 –
36.0% "AAAACK! ::smacks forehead::"
January 12, 2011 –
53.0% "I'm really loving this book! Why didnt I read it as a kid???"
January 13, 2011 –
62.0% "HA! brilliant!"
January 14, 2011 – Finished Reading
April 29, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites-all-time
September 16, 2011 – Shelved as: children-books
September 16, 2011 – Shelved as: fiction
September 16, 2011 – Shelved as: literary
October 4, 2011 – Shelved as: kindle

Comments (showing 1-32)

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message 32: by Dina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dina I love (present tense) this book! I read it the first time when I was "a little princess" myself and have reread it a few times since then. It just gets better and better. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Zeek.

message 31: by Zeek (last edited Jan 14, 2011 03:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek somehow i missed it as a kid, but it has all the ingredients I loved back then (and love now). I knowI woulda read and reread it too! ;)

message 30: by Willow (last edited Jan 14, 2011 03:06PM) (new)

Willow Brook This was a big favorite of mine as a kid along with The Secret Garden (just the title was great - a SECRET Garden! LOL). Both also had beautiful illustrations. And yes, I read it many times though my mom read it to me originally. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

message 29: by Dina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dina Oh yes, The Secret Garden is another fave of mine. Ah, to be that innocent again! :)

MelissaB I loved this when I was younger! I also loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables. Another good one is The Secret Garden.

MelissaB Uhh yeah I just saw you girls loved The Secret Garden too! We are kindred spirits :)

message 26: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek And bosom friends! :)

message 25: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek I wanted to be Laura ingalls as a child and adored the secret garden! Just never read a little princess for some reason- nor Anne of gg! Did once I was older but not as a kid :(

message 24: by Willow (new)

Willow Brook Melissa, I loved all the Little House books too and read them all multiple times. Anne of Green Gables was cute but I think I came across them a bit late.

MelissaB I lived in my own little book world often when I was younger :)

message 22: by Zeek (last edited Jan 14, 2011 06:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek They were always my escape too and to this day are my constant friend. :) (which is why we are all here no?)

Oh Trixie Belden- LOVED Trixie Belden! Intrepid, solved mysteries and another girl with close group of friends- plus she had a crush on her best friends brother. My favorite books were when she and Jim were together- I sense a theme here ...

MelissaB Indeed Zeek. At least now I know I am not alone, no one I knew was like me when I was younger.

message 20: by Zeek (last edited Jan 14, 2011 06:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek Me neither Mel- guess that's why the books were so important to us!

message 19: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek There's a girl at work who reads like I do- got her hooked on the fever series!- But no one else can I talk books with in my life. My sister in law says she wishes she could enjoy it more but she falls asleep as soon as she tries. I laugh because when I read, it keeps me awake. She always shakes her head in amazement. Me? I'm amazed at how people can not!

MelissaB There is a girl in my office now who loves the Fever series, she even has T-shirts. We talk sometimes but there isn't a lot of privacy in my office to talk in depth.

message 17: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek We talk about it everyday now- she's almost 10 yrs younger than me but we are both hot for Barrons- and people listen in I can tell but they give us enough space to "pretend" we're holding a private convo- mostly I dont care. :P

MelissaB She had told me I better be caught up by the weekend after it comes out so she can talk to someone but there is no way I will be! I told her to get on Amazon or Goodreads but she doesn't use these.

message 15: by Zeek (last edited Jan 14, 2011 06:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek ha! We had to make a pact not to talk about it before the other reads it- she coaches basketball and has to work and go straight to the game on wed. Both srsly contemplating baggin work to read it- shhhhh dont tell! haha!

Kathleen Reading it now for them first time. Great review, Zeek!
Speaking of that nasty villain: "She had large cold fishy eyes and a large cold fishy smile...which grows even larger when she sees Sara's wealthy father."

message 13: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek Well I loved it! Just wish I had discovered it as child...

message 12: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek (PS- did you happen to watch the tv show Angel with David Boreanez?)

Kathleen Do you mean the vampire show? Or the Lifetime series?

message 10: by Zeek (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek The Vampire show... there's a reason I'm asking :)

Kathleen Yes, I have seen several episodes.

message 8: by Zeek (last edited Apr 19, 2013 07:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zeek Okay, Do you remember Wesley and Fred (Winifred Burkle)?

At the end of the series Wesley has to say goodbye to Fred. He has this magical book that will pull up any book he needs to do research and become it, so she asks him if he can pull up any book? The next scene of them is him reading to her during their final goodbye. The Little Princess is the story. :D

::sniff sniff:: One of my favorite scenes EVAH in television history!

Kathleen Awwwww. I love that!

Shannon Zeek, I just came across this,and think I know you! My old Trixie Beldon collection is in my attic, loved all the books you mentioned and remember the scene you were talking about! I was a solitary little thing as a girl, always with a book,and little desire to play with others......not much has changed except for a little boy, little house, little house and big husband who shakes his head at the stack of books and my Nook beside the bed. If I can ask, what are you reading now? I just finished an awesome murder mystery, The Whisperer. I admit it, totally stumped, blown away at the end!

Zeek Hey here! Right now I'm reading a romance ( Aching for Always by Gwyn Cready) that is not holding my interest- although it should because it's very different.

I'm thinking I might give Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay a try next... it's been on my night stand for awhile.

message 4: by Maya (new)

Maya I never read "A little princess" but I remember watching the movie as a child. It was and always will be one of my favorite stories! You did a great job of summarizing it. I could picture everything you wrote and it brought a smile to my face from such lovely memories.

Susan (the other Susan) Your review made me remember why I loved this book so much when I was a child. Maybe it's worth rereading as an adult. I also loved The Secret Garden by this author.

message 2: by Medusa (new) - added it

Medusa I live this book. I also love little lord Fauntleroy by the same author.

message 1: by Medusa (new) - added it

Medusa Love*

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