Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Translator: Richard Howard
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
When a pilot crashes in the desert, he is surprised to find that he’s not alone. The first night, he comes across a strange little fellow who he calls the little prince. Soon he begins to hear about all of the little prince’s adventures—the small planet which he came from where there is a rose he loves and three little volcanoes; his short visits to other asteroids with the king, the vain man, the drunkard, the businessman, the lamplighter, and the geographer; and his journey to earth where he discovers other roses and tames a fox. Suffering from thirst, the pilot and the little prince go in search of water and find a well in the desert, which is nearby the place where the little prince came to earth nearly a year before. On the anniversary, the little prince returns there and, with the help of a venomous snake, slips out of this world and back to his own.
There are two parts of this book that need reviewed: the story itself, and this particular edition of the book. In terms of the story, it is a classic that is full of wisdom and truth and loved by readers all over the world, simple enough for a child to understand and wise enough to keep an adult pondering for a lifetime. As for this edition, however, fans of The Little Prince may be disappointed. The foreword by Gregory Maguire is interesting enough but doesn’t seem to add much to the book. Also, this edition features a translation by Richard Howard done in 2000 to replace the original Katherine Woods one, and this version does not capture the meaning, magic, or poetry of the story nearly as well as the classic translation. The advantages of this version include creatively placed text, original full-color illustrations, and a reader’s guide at the end which includes interesting discussion questions and Common Core Connections. In summary, The Little Prince is a timeless philosophical story that I would highly recommend to anyone, but this particular edition, and especially Howard’s new translation, is less than satisfying.