The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), by Antonine de Saint-Exupery has been translated into more than 180 languages over the past 60 years. Although it's a children’s book it is deeply philosophical in nature and delights even the most serious adult reader.
The narrator, a fallen pilot, finds himself stranded in the Saharan dessert after a serious airplane crash. A little blond Prince approaches him like an enigma and begins to tell the pilot his story. As the pilot attempts to repair his plane the little boy explains he is from another small planet, far from the earth, where he has left his beloved rose in order to explore other parts of the universe. He recounts his journey and the characters he has come across- a king, a conceited man, a drunkard, a lamplighter, and a geographer- all adults who are unable to teach him much more than he already knows. During his visit to Earth he comes across a fox who has a some more valuable lessons. He is then overcome by a desire to return to his little planet and to his rose, willing to sacrifice anything to get back to her.
Here are a few beautiful quotes from the book:
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essentail matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise."
“Why are you drinking?” demanded the little prince.
“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler.
“Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who already felt sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
“Ashamed of drinking!”
“When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”
“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
I highly recommend this book to children of all ages- including the child in every Mother and Father. Request it at your local library, keep an eye out for it at the Op shop or buy it as a special treat for someone you love from your local bookstore.