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Book cover for A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Harper Classics: New York, 1998; originally published in 1905.

I consider myself privileged. I have a wonderful family, live in a big house in the suburbs, and I go to a highly-ranked school. My family really cares about me. I have a great life with wonderful opportunities and perform well in school and in the extracurricular activities I participate in. I am most likely a child who is awfully spoiled. Although I can see it so clearly now, there was once a time that I thought I did not have a very good life. There was always someone who had something better than me. So what if I had a cookie in my lunch? Someone else had two cookies, and obviously, two cookies were undoubtedly superior to one cookie. I was a disagreeable young girl and coveted more than I had. I didn’t see how lucky I truly was. 

Now I know that it was an amazing miracle that my little first-grade self plucked A Little Princess from the shelf one bitterly cold winter morning.

As I studied the book cover for the very first time, I was captivated by the girl my age in a rosy pink frock on the cover. A book about someone my age? I excitedly pondered in my head. I saw the title, A Little Princess, printed on the cover in a cursive font I admired. A girl my age who was a princess? This is going to be a good book! I had no idea how true that statement would turn out to be.

 When I started reading the book that very weekend, I was treated to descriptions of smoggy, turn-of-the-century London. This was where rich, clever Sara Crewe went to a dignified yet stingy old boarding school. Sara was no ordinary girl, though. She was undoubtedly kind. Instead of being friends with the popular mean girls, she sparked friendships with the misfit students and younger girls. She was also a star student, yet she didn’t brag about her cleverness to her peers. She was truly a lovely little girl.

 I immediately found distinct similarities between Sara and me. We both had an intriguing look, that was different yet pretty. We were both very clever and deemed “smart” by our teachers and peers. 

But as I read on, I found so much more in this book. As I traveled through heartbreak, hardships, and cruelty with Sara as my companion, I uncovered a true secret of life. As she was abused, starved, and cruelly mistreated, Sara was still gracious. She was tenderly chivalrous to all those she crossed paths with, even when they greeted her by barking orders at her, even as she labored over difficult work. Seeing this, I had a sudden epiphany. I stopped reading all at once and thought long and hard. If Sara could be magnanimous in a time of great trial, shouldn’t I be even more so when I had so much more to be gracious about? Couldn’t I give so much more to those in greater need than I was? I had the power to be gracious and kind. That was when I decided to use it.

A Little Princess taught me to be a friend. It also taught me to be kind and grateful. I never neglect to say “please” or “thank you,” because I know, though small, those simple words can be extremely powerful.  

You know you’ve found a great book when it transforms your thought process. Now I know how lucky I was to find a little princess on the shelf that fateful Monday morning.

Reviewed by Ava Horton Reviewer of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Ava Horton, 13 Gresham, OR