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Top 100 Children’s Novels #95: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

#95 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943)
20 points

One of the most marvelous books in children’s literature. Period. – Hotspur Closser

And now the book that I simply could not believe didn’t make the poll the last time! Though I’m sure we all read it in in French class the book has suffered over the years from a kind of overexposure.  Recently, however, it has been all over the news.  One minute we hear that they’re attempting another major motion picture (possibly to blot out the memory of the 1974 version).  The next there’s a brand new graphic novel series of new Prince adventures coming out.  And don’t even talk to me about that new TV series they’re considering.

The plot as described by Anita Silvey reads, “The Little Prince from planet B-612 encounters a stranded aviator in the Sahara Desert.  While the pilot works to repair his engine, for he has a supply of water that will last him only eight days, the Prince shares his vision of Earth, the universe, relationships, and life.”

And who, you might ask, chose it as their favorite book in Anita Silvey’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book?  That would be Peter Sis, m’dears.  He writes, “The book that most influenced my life – perhaps even my entire career – is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which I discovered sometime between the ages of twelve and fourteen… The Little Prince showed me that very individual and personal feelings could be communicated in a story.  But it also showed me that an artist could incorporate these feelings and emotions in the drawings.  It alerted me to the potential of art and guided me to a career as an illustrator.”

Many of us know that Saint-Exupery is one of the more tragic tales out there.  This was his sole work for children and in 1944 he died while flying a WWII mission.  At the time his body was never found.  Then, decades after his death, a fisherman managed to locate a piece of Saint-Exupery’s jewelry.  Using this, the French were able to find his plane beneath the sea and give it the attention it deserved.

Of course there was the small matter of Saint-Exupery’s will and the fact that his wife forged it.  But THAT little story will wait to be told in a book I am currently writing with Peter Sieruta and Jules Danielson.  For now, I shall say no more.

While you’re at it, don’t forget that they turned it into a graphic novel:

Folks of a certain generation will recall this particular atrocity:

Personally, I have a strange affection for the movie.  I can’t bear to watch it, of course.  I just like the idea of it in theory.  Gene Wilder is always a good thing and Bob Fosse as a snake?  Dude.

Oh, 1974.  Never change.  That also has to be the world’s cheapest trailer.  Sheesh!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I just may be more interested in the story of the forged will than ever rereading thinly veiled pseudo-philosophy again.

  2. How many points did this one get?

  3. Never mind – I’m assuming it got 20 points, like the previous title and the next title. 🙂

  4. I’m so glad this one made the list…it’s worth reading in the original French if you can-the English translation comes across cheesier.

  5. Adrian Onyando says:

    This is a classic too for me as an African children’s and young people’s writer. Why? Because I believe that children’s stories should have a grain of wisdom that will see them through experience. I’m not a moralist though. Part of my book, Adventure through the Great Desert Kingdom has been inspired or influenced–I don’t know which– by The Little Prince. In my blog, Osiri Beach Waves, I post an excerpt chapter: The Prince, the Fox and the Snake. You could have a look.