A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett (Juvenile Fiction)
Sara Crewe is seven and always dreaming and thinking odd things. But ever since arriving in London from India with her father, Captain Ralph Crewe, all she thinks about is “the place”—Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies. Her father’s affluence instantly propels Sara to star status within the school, but misfortune soon causes her to be penniless and at the mercy of jealous students, spiteful cooks, and a vindictive and cold-hearted headmistress. Once an heiress and now a pauper, Sara relies on the friendship of a young servant, two foolish schoolgirls, and a rather amicable rat to help her cope with her new station in life.
Burnett delivers a charming and tender Cinderella-like story where our heroine is suddenly ripped from a life of comfort, joy, and love and thrown into a merciless world of coldness, hunger, and cruelty. Unlike Cinderella, Sara is merely a child and the pain and suffering inflicted upon her is especially difficult to bear. It also earns her tormentor, Miss Minchin, a dubious place amongst literature’s most despised and detested villains.
With A Little Princess, Burnett gives us a story about humility, grace, courage, hope, generosity, and kindness. She also gives us a girl who is a beloved daughter, a show pupil, an adopted mother, a storyteller, a benefactor, a scullery maid, and a friend. But most of all, Sara Crewe is, and always will be in the hearts of readers, a little princess.
* Book cover image attributed to www.tvtropes.org