A Little Princess

 
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A Little Princess

The story of young Sara Crewe, the “little princess” who is left at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies at the tender age of seven in early-1900s London, has become a classic story, retold in the theatre and in movies. Read for yourself the true story of Sara Crewe; movies and plays have been based upon the story, but some have taken outrageous liberties with the tale and have betrayed its original spirit. Open this book… The story begins as Sara is parting tearfully from her father, Captain Crewe, who, like many British men of his time, sought a life in imperial India. Sara’s mother died when Sara was born, and she and her father have formed an especially close relationship. Now however, it is time for Sara to leave India—a place notoriously dangerous for the health of young English children!—to acquire an education and be brought up as a young lady. Captain Crewe leaves Sara in the care of Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary, instructing that lady to provide only the finest of everything to his daughter: elegant clothing, furnishings, the best instruction, a pony; anything to make Sara happy. Sara immediately distinguishes herself as a brilliant young pupil: well-read, fluent in English, French, and Hindi, curious about everything, and brimming with imagination and a sense of self. Miss Minchin immediately takes a strong dislike to this wealthy pupil, sensing that in Sara, she has met a force of nature. Despite this dislike, Miss Minchin is eager to accept such a wealthy, prestigious student. Sara discovers that the other students are either in awe of her or are envious. Oldest student and previous star pupil, Lavinia, immediately becomes jealous of Sara’s rivalry for Miss Minchin’s esteem; plain, un-clever Ermengarde seeks desperately to connect with Sara; motherless babe Lottie finds a mother figure in Sara. Even scullery maid Becky finds that Sara treats her kindly, unlike the other girls in whom class-consciousness has been instilled since birth. When, after some time has passed, Sara is told that her father has died in India, leaving her a penniless orphan, the “little princess” is sent up to the attic of the Seminary to work off her keep. She becomes a tutor, a maid, an errand girl—anything Miss Minchin can inflict on her in revenge for the burden of debt she has been placed under in caring for Sara. Yet amazingly, Sara does not succumb to despair, nor does she cave in under the pressure of the hard work and starvation. Because of who she is, Sara remains a princess inside because she has the strength of spirit to cope with her reduced circumstances. Then, one day, an interesting household moves in next-door: an “Indian Gentleman,” his manservant Ram Dass, and a monkey…and the magic begins! Please treat yourself to this classic tale in its entirety; don’t read an abridged edition or—heaven forfend—watch the Shirley Temple movie version, which is about as far from this story as is possible to be. If the young lady in your life is too young to understand the story, share it with her! Sara Crewe is an unforgettable heroine whose spirit, loving heart, and resolve to never give up render her a role model worthy of knowing.  ISBN:   978-1442402928 336 pages   Ages  9-13

Recommended by: Shari Shaw, B.A., M.L.I.S., Livonia Public Schools, Michigan, USA

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