Antoine de Saint-Exepury,
Le Petit Prince
(Harcourt Brace, 1943)

Le Petit Prince is a wonderful story of a pilot and the prince he meets in the middle of a desert. Of how the pilot, as a grown-up, interacts with the prince, who is very much a child. Of how the two get to know each other as the prince tells the story of his trip to Earth and the people he met along the way.

The prince has journeyed to Earth from an asteroid in space. He tells the pilot of his journey, of the people he meets (like a dedicated lamplighter on an asteroid where night and day last for but moments) and what he sees. The prince also tells the pilot about his asteroid, and what he does to take care of it, and how sometimes when he is sad he watches the sunset and then watches it again for as many times as he needs to cheer up.

The story continues from there to tell of the journey the prince and the pilot make to find a well. It tells of the prince's departure from this planet to go home to his asteroid and his rose. And it ends with a very simple request to the reader.

And it is more than that. Le Petit Prince is not just a children's story. It is a story written for anyone and everyone who is not a grown-up. But what, then, is a grown-up? At the simplest level, a grown-up is a person who is mainly concerned with numbers. Maybe it is simpler to define who is not a grown-up.

One is not a grown-up if, having saved five minutes in a day due to a pill that replaces the need to drink water, one takes that time to walk slowly to a fountain and drink from it anyway. (Although this example means more to someone who has already read the book, it still gives a hint at how Antoine de Saint-Exepury perceives someone who is not grown up.) And even if you don't think that way -- the book just might surprise you.

Le Petit Prince has much to say on things of true importance -- on friendship and on meaning, on love and on farewells, and the importance of "roses." There is magic in this book. It is in a fox who helps the prince find the uniqueness of a rose. It is in an asp, and its parting gift to the prince. It is in the prince himself, and his many, many sunsets -- and in his parting gift to the pilot.

This book was written for children and people who are not grown-ups. It tells the story of a prince who visits out planet for a while, and his journey here and his departure. It tells about things that matter, weaving the themes together deftly for a beautiful story. And it shows a lot about friendship and love. If you let it, it just might change how you see things, even if only a little.

Read it and let its beauty touch you.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]



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