I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all

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I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, sewer, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all, blogging, Costumed Beagle enthusiast. I am not always pleasant, although through intensive cupcake therapy I have learned not to throw knives at people anymore.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Anna and I have been working on this book for awhile.  She mainly reads with her dad and this was a book for just us.  The book was actually given to me as a shower gift when I was pregnant with Anna, so it seemed fitting that we should read it together.  The version I have also has lovely little illustrations from Tasha Tudor....who is just delightful.

You may be familiar with this author if you've read or have seen the staged and musical version of The Secret Garden.  Or you may have seen one of the several movie versions of this book.  I don't like most of them except for possibly the Shirley Temple version and that is just because she is so darn cute.

One thing I did not realize, because of the ambiguity of the name was that Frances was a woman.  I have both great aunts and a great uncle with that name--for many a time it was both (like Alma or Jamie).  I also assumed the author was British, which she was, but I did not realize that she had emigrated to the United States with her family in the 1860's.  She also suffered from depression and married and divorced two men (rather rare, I think for a 19th century woman).

The book, as you probably know revolves around little Sarah Crewe who is raised in India by her father.  He takes her to a school in England and then promptly dies after discovering that his diamond mines are no good and that he has lost all his fortune.

It was a fun book to read with a seven year old girl.  She felt deeply for Sarah's suffering and loved the fantasy world Sarah builds herself to keep from going crazy at the school.  The book does not talk down to children and the vocabulary building is great.  Being more than 100 years old, the language uses all sorts of "old" words and we constantly stopped mid sentence for Anna to ask me the meaning.

I've read the book before, but the thing that struck me the most this time through was how, despite her indigent circumstances, people could tell that Sarah wasn't of the "lower" classes and sought ways to make her life easier and more pleasant, while Becky, the poor scullery maid who is the same age as Becky, is clearly fulfilling the life that is due someone of her birth.  No one brings becky a soft bed and warm covers; true Sarah shares, but even after "they" notice that Sara is sharing, the food and warmth is still only extended to Sarah, but she is just given a little more, so she can continue to share with the wretched little maid.  I really felt for poor little Becky.  I guess that is what happens when a story lasts so long; we end up putting our own time and sentiments into it and wind up with an entirely different take.  But it is still a lovely story.

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