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Review: The Little Prince

I have a confession to make.  Until this week, I had never read the Little Prince.  I know it seems sacrilege for a librarian to admit she never read a classic, but the title never interested me as a child and as an adult I could never be bothered, until I agreed to review the adapted graphic novel version.  After reading the first few pages, I knew I had to go back to the original to review this title with justice.

The Little Prince
Antoine De Saint-Exupery, Illustrated by Joann Sfar
Ages 7 and up
Houghton Mifflin, 2010, 978-0-547-33802-6
$19.99, 110 pp.

The lowdown:
Man crashes his plane in the middle of the desert.  He’s all alone until a little boy, later referred to as The Little Prince, asks the pilot to draw him a sheep. The two form an unusual bond, as the Little Prince, who’s from a small planet, Asteroid B-612, explains how he came to planet Earth: It was because of a prideful flower that the Little Prince watched and nurtured.  But when the flower became too prideful, he decided to leave it, though he loved the flower very much.He goes from planet to planet, meeting various people, until he gets to planet Earth. On Earth he meets a fox who teaches him about love and friendship.

I see why The Little Prince is a Language Arts teacher’s field day. I didn’t want to tax my brain too much, and this blog isn’t about ripping apart literature but reviewing good comics. There are layers to this story and lessons to be told.  Frankly, it’s not all that interesting of a story, and I’m not sure why the story is such a hit. As my colleague told me, when I was looking for a copy of the original version to read, The Little Prince is “weird.”

But the adaptation is a treasure. As far as the storytelling goes, Sfar captures the tone, the cadence, and the essence of the original story. I cannot imagine a better adaptation. The artwork stays true to the original work, too. Just as the original story is “weird,” Sfar gives the artwork that weird feel too. (Though I don’t think Saint-Exupery was trying for the weird, while I believe Sfar was quite deliberate.)  The artwork is also signature Sfar. It’s easy to recognize the artwork and attribute it to Sfar if you’ve ever seen his work before.

The comic adaptation is a lot more engaging than the original work. In my opinion, skip the original and go straight for the comic. You won’t be missing much.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Houghton Mifflin.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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