Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Book Review: A Little Princess By Frances Hodgson Burnett

By: Isha R. Nair

Hear from one of our passionate young readers!

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a celebration of imagination of a young girl, Sara Crewe. Burnett keeps us engaged all through the book with her vivid style of writing which brings her characters to life. Similar to her other books, The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy, Burnett once again explores the theme of a child who is orphaned and goes on to face hardships, only to overcome them later. In this case, Sara is a motherless child who has been raised by her doting father in India. She is sent to London, much against her wishes, to study at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Girls, where her father ensures that Sara lives a luxurious life and is treated with special care by Miss. Minchin. This leads to the other students at the Seminary calling her “Princess”, which she often pretends to be. Despite her privileges, Sara is a kind and generous girl who befriends everyone. Like in her other books Burnett has given the central character, Sara, a strong and lovable personality.

Life takes a sad turn when Sara turns 11-years-old, her father dies after having lost all his wealth and leaving behind a sizable debt of unpaid school fees and bills with Miss Minchin. Infuriated with the situation, Miss Minchin takes away all of Sara’s belongings and makes her live in a cold and poorly furnished attic and forces Sara to earn her keep by running errands. But Sara still keeps herself happy through her vivid imagination. Things take a bit of a turn when warm clothing and blankets mysteriously start appearing in Sara's attic room. Who could her new benefactor be? And how have they been changing her life? Will Sara ever experience the luxuries she was used to again? 

I enjoyed this fascinating book and experienced a roller coaster of emotions along with Sara. What I best liked about her was that even during her days of poverty and hardship, she never stopped being generous and caring to others. I was almost reduced to tears when Sara shared her food with children less fortunate than her because she knew what it felt like to be hungry and she said another girl is "hungrier than I am."

More than a century old, this remarkable children’s novel still continues to be very popular. I would recommend this book for readers between the age of 9 and 12. A Little Princess is a story of survival and perseverance of a young girl who faces the ups and downs of life with dignity and that is indeed inspiring. 

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Isha Rajeev Nair is a student at Kings School Nad Al Sheba. A voracious reader from a very young age, Isha believes in exploring multiple genres and has been an influence in her peers' reading choices. Her interests include writing poetry and she has had her poems published on various platforms and is about to publish her first book of poetry. Among her many accomplishments is her position as an India Book of Records Title Holder, as well as being a double winner of the Browzly competition. She is also the youngest winner of the BSME Ed Goodwin Award. Isha is committed to social causes and is a brand ambassador for the student-led eco-initiative Green Gratitude and Water Alliance.