Whether up close or by reputation, we are all familiar with the young prince from asteroid B-612. For as long as I can remember, the internet had been quoting the Little Prince and I got to encounter him on many occasions, but I only got to know him better during my first visit to the eminent Parisian library, Shakespeare and Co. in 2016. Now, I don’t usually obsess over crumpled papers, but you can understand why this book has won himself a private suite in my little library.
The story starts with a pilot stranded in the Sahara Desert fixing a mechanical problem with his plane when he hears a voice belonging to a young blond-haired boy asking him to draw him a lamb. Throughout the book, we learn of the Little Prince’s adventures before reaching Earth, and more precisely, the people he met along the way; the conceited man who teaches the prince the word “admire”, the drunkard who drinks to forget his shame of drinking, the business-man counting all the stars he has trapped in “ownership” and the lamplighter following “orders”. With gentle philosophy and social criticism of the adult world, St Exupéry created the ultimate dreamer, the child who never ceases to ask questions. Seemingly a children’s book, the story could be enjoyed at all ages, in fact, it is advised to read it at least three times in a lifetime: as a child, as a teenager and as an adult (especially one with children of his own). The author reminds us to only attach value and importance to human connections, conversations, friendships and a vast imagination are a better investment than adult toys like money, power, alcohol… Which is why St Exupéry’s disappearance post military mission during the war (an adult toy) almost seems like a cruel joke pulled by the universe.
Reading this book now feels like reading into the minds of children, but sadly enough not all children, only the ones whose imaginations had room to grow. As a young girl, I lived for fairytales and as a traditional Middle Eastern woman, my mother lived to belittle them. Reality can be a tricky subject for a kid, our ability to differentiate it from fiction only develops as we grow older, but without the sense of wonder that fills childhood, without Santa and the Tooth Fairy, we are forced into a stern adulthood from a very young age. This book is for adults who wish to live a child’s innocence, those who want to believe that a flower’s thorns can protect her from a tiger’s claws, those who wish to break through the shortsightedness of adults into the unrestrictive curiosity of children.
If Newton hadn’t questioned the world around him, we would’ve never found out why apples fall from trees, remember that the next time a child asks you why the sky is blue.
Enjoy and always bring a book home. x