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Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Little Princes

Back in late October when I first read Little Princes by Conor Grennan, I raved about it here briefly. Now that it is finally available (tomorrow is the official release day!), I want to add that this inspiring book should be in every school and public library. I do not say that often or lightly.

I recently had a chance to meet Conor at ALA Midwinter, and to interview him for an upcoming issue of the SLJ Teen newsletter (look out for it on February 16th). I urge anyone who has the opportunity to bring an author into a school, public, or academic library to consider pursuing Conor as a speaker.

Not only is Conor personable, well-spoken, and funny, his message is the importance of getting involved, of “just showing up.” He encourages young people to volunteer their time even if they worry that they lack the necessary skills for the project at hand.

Take a look at the wonderful website devoted to the non-profit that Conor created, Next Generation Nepal. I especially enjoy the page where he explains why he wrote the book.

GRENNAN, Conor. Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. 304p. HarperCollins/Morrow. 2011. Tr $0. ISBN 978-0-06-193005-8. LC number unavailable.  Little Princes

Adult/High School–Twenty-nine-year-old Conor Grennan began a year long trip around the world with three months of volunteer work in a Nepalese orphanage to justify the extravagance. As his friends had mentioned and he himself realized as he stood on the doorstep, he had absolutely no skills for the job, but he became deeply committed to reconnecting trafficked children with their families of origin. His account of no comforts, dull food, and a tangle of children are both hilarious and poignant. This is an action packed, breath-holding adventure of the heart and soul as Grennan negotiated steep mountain trails and bureaucracy while founding a non-profit organization and falling in love with an equally committed and passionate woman. His intelligence and humility shine through, and insights into the culture and the difference one person can make are evident. Grennan is able to poke fun at himself while his uncanny inner drive to see and act clearly is obvious. While comparisons to Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea (Penguin, 2007) are inevitable, this book is more accessible and possesses more immediate teen appeal.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. I’m curious if you think this title might be appropriate for a 7th or 8th grade audience, or if the language and topics covered in the book are not appropriate for those in middle school. I have students who devour nonfiction and they like to read “adult” books, but I have to be cautious about things like cursing and sexual situations that are often included in books for adults.

    • Angela Carstensen says:

      Great question, Alicia. I think Little Princes is safe for middle school readers, and they would enjoy it. It gets off to a great start, with funny scenes of adjusting to the new culture and meeting the kids, so they will be hooked quickly.

  2. Diane Colson says:

    The audio version of this book is just as wonderful. Generally, authors who read their own works are a disappointment, but Grennan’s inflections (excitement, tenderness, regret…all pitch perfect) bring such a genuine feel to the listening experience. Whatever the format, this is a tale not to be missed!

  3. Service Learning projects are important at my school. We read “Three Cups of Tea” last year. Would this be appropriate for 5th graders?

    • Angela Carstensen says:

      I think it would be appropriate, but do read it yourself before making a decision.

  4. amy cheney says:

    Absolutely 100% for service learning and would work well in middle school. In fact, one of Grennan’s main purposes in writing the book is to inspire people to volunteer and provide service. I think it’s appropriate for 5th graders. While there is a love story, there is absolutely no graphic anything to it except for Grennan’s doofiness.

    Also, Conor says that his favorite audiences to speak at on his book tours are the middle schools.


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