Can you believe July is almost over? We’re headed at full speed towards another school year, and as things get crazier I find that it’s more and more difficult to set aside time to write blog posts. Even if your schedule is getting busier by the minute, I hope you can pause and enjoy today’s special guest post. Today my friend and mentor teacher Stephanie Lee has written about one of her favorite books–The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. I am ashamed to admit that I had actually never read this famous book until Stephanie told me that’s what she would be writing about. I have since remedied that situation!
Stephanie was one of the first teachers I met when I taught 7th grade. She was my next-door neighbor, my mentor teacher, and she quickly became one of my best friends. She’s written a really beautiful, personal post, and I can’t wait for you all to read it!!
I’ll let her take it from here! Let me know in the comments what you think about this classic book.
“If you please, sir, draw me a sheep.” And so begins one of the simplest, yet profound books I have ever read. Years ago, when life was innocent in only the way that childhood should be, my grandmother read this book to me, and I watched the old movie starring Gene Wilder (every good movie of my childhood seems to have him in it). The Little Prince. Back then it was just a short, but sweet story of an airplane pilot who crashes in the desert and meets a child-prince who lived on a tiny planet with just a temperamental rose and three volcanoes as a companions. He takes care of the volcanoes and the rose daily, even going so far as to provide an enclosure to help protect the rose (at her demand) from the wind. He finally begins to feel as if all of his care of this rose has been taken for granted and decides to leave to explore the rest of the universe.
Over the next week or so, the little prince tells the pilot all about the different planets he visits and the inhabitants that he meets until he eventually gets to earth where he meets a fox (enter Gene Wilder in the film version) who teaches him one of the most important lessons of life–which at the time I didn’t understand, but I will get to that. And a snake. Oh the snake. The English teacher in me wants to take over here and discuss the archetype of a snake but again I digress. The little prince after all of his travels only wants to return home and so he makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to return to the one he truly loves–his rose. And because I never give away the ending, I will only say you must read the book to find out how he gets back to the rose.
Here’s the part about this book that I love. It is short and oh so sweet of a story of love, loyalty, stepping out on your own to discover who and what you truly are, and of ultimately figuring out what is important in the end. But all of that is hidden underneath a great story so now fast-forward. 5 years after one of the greatest struggles of my life, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our miracle baby we were told may never happen. I knew in my heart one of the first books I had to have in my son’s nursery was The Little Prince. This book is an easy read that I knew I could read to Hudson chapter by chapter, a little at a time, until we read the entire book. I knew that he would grow to love it and it would help him through dark times like it had helped me throughout my entire life–when things were good and when things were dark like the universe the prince traveled through. What I didn’t realize was that reading it at 2 am holding a sleeping baby who would only sleep as I held him would make the book new to me all over again.
See I realized that there are a few universal truths in this little book that makes it a must-read for everyone who takes a breath (in my humble opinion). First, we should always have the innocence of a child. Children see things in a way that an adult doesn’t and the minute we stop seeing the elephant in the boa constrictor and only see a hat as the adults in the pilot’s life did, we begin to die a little. There is something to be said for seeing with our imagination and not with our eyes and the little prince reminds the pilot of that. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Second, it is through the fox the little prince learns that “you become responsible for that which you have tamed.” The little prince meets the fox and slowly, after showing up day after day, loving on the fox and being consistent, he tames the fox, and the fox returns his affection. However, he learns an important lesson that when you tame something or someone, you become responsible for that thing or that person–RESPONSIBLE. You can’t leave because things get tough, difficult, on inconvenient. You are forever responsible. I could go on…
Third, when he realizes where his heart truly lies, back home with his rose, he makes a choice that is surprising to the pilot and is always, no matter how many times I read it, shocking to me in order to return. Sometimes great love requires great sacrifice and shocking choices that don’t make sense to the outside looking in. Because he loved the rose and knew she needed him and that was more important than anything. It always is.
I could go on with the lessons I have learned from this small book, but the last lesson I will leave you with is this–at the different stages of my life from childhood, to losing the grandmother who meant to the world to me, to high school and college, through infertility, and now to motherhood, this book has always been there to remind me of what is important and what really matters. And isn’t that what really makes a book a great one?