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November 11, 2018

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Oh gosh, I loved A Little Princess. I mean, taciturn Mary Lennox was more my style, but you knew Sara was someone to emulate.

The perils of reading children's literature with adult eyes! Your assessment is even more complicated by the fact that the narrator reveals Ralph Crewe indulged her left and right, so my current theory of Sara's good nature rests with her Indian ayah.

You were a bit old for it at the time, but I wholeheartedly recommend the 1995 film version of A Little Princess. And while I'm at it, the 1993 version of The Secret Garden is fantastic, and if you haven't yet seen The Secret of Roan Inish, WELL. It is one of the few movies that surpasses the book it was modeled after. Plus there's selkies. The mid-90s was a halcyon time for movie versions of children's books.

Happy reading with Stella! I don't often say things like "I wish I had a daughter" but when it comes to reading aloud, I have a feeling my son will not appreciate Heidi or A Little Princess in quite the same way I did.

Colette, your son might surprise you —mine really loved The Secret Garden.

I don’t think the Victorians shared modern ideas about child development. I hope/assume some diligent academic has already analyzed the works in terms of Romanticism or perhaps (more thrillingly?) by means of a connection to Songs of Innocence and Experience. But even if fhey haven’t, it’s not so surprising to me to find Victorian authors (presumably) ignoring all the real children in their lives as they wrote perfect exemplars of the childhood innocence that needed protecting. Harriet Beecher Stowe could pull up a seat at Hodgson Burnett’s tea party and fit right in, don’t you think?

I didn’t read this particular book to my children, even though I adored it to pieces as a girl. I’m not sure why, anymore!

Paging Nicole!

Sara learned her virtues from reading. That's why all us bookworms believed in her.

True confessions: I always doubted Sara Crewe. Mary Lennox seemed a much more realistic portrait of child development, and give me Martha over Sara any day for keeping up sweetness and good spirits while in servitude.

Sorry to chime in so belatedly!! I also read, and reread, this book obsessively as a kid, and recently read it to my daughter...and I feel really torn. I agree Sarah's not realistic, but I also think the novel pushes us to see her wrestling with her grief and loss in ways that seem believable--by telling herself stories. If it's about the power of story-telling to remake the world for you, Sarah feels that when she's privileged (albeit motherless and in the care of a sweet but pretty feckless dad) and continues to hold on to that and use it when she's lost everything. Like Esther, for me, she's a kid who's actually not very well taken care of by grown-ups--even those that love her--and her precocious goodness maybe in some ways reflects that?

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