"A Little Princess" is the story of a girl named Sara Crewe, who has lived most of her life in India. Her father decides that it is time for her to go to school, so he sends her to a girl's school in London, England. Though she is given everything she could ever want, Sara is not spoiled, but is sensitive and well behaved. She becomes an instant favorite with the other studens when they find that she is clever and can tell stories using her vivid imagination. They begin to call her "Princess Sara", though she reasons that it is very easy to be a Princess when she has everything, and the real trial would be to be one with nothing. Prophetic words, when, on Sara's 11th birthday, Miss Minchin (the proprietress of the school) is told that Sara's father has died, and his sceme of diamond mines has fallen through, leaving Sara penniless, and with no where to go. Miss Minchin, who has never liked Sara, sends her up to the attic where she is to work as a servant. Sara's trial is to remember that a Princess is one when she acts like one, and even in rags and tatters, she can be generous and kind, loving and forgiving. Though the work is hard, and she is almost always hungry, she still finds it within herself to befriend the scullery maid, Becky, and keep in contact with her old school friends from downstairs. The Indian gentleman, an invalid who lives next door, takes an interest in her, and attemps to make her life more pleasant, while continuing his search for the lost daughter of his friend Captain Crewe, his partner in the diamond mines, which where not a disaster after all, but in fact a success. When Sara goes to his house to return his money, which ran across the roof to her attic, they discover that she is the girl that they have been looking for, and she is not a pauper after all, but an heiress.
This is a charming book for younger children, but can also be enjoyed by older women, as a reminder that even through adversity kindness can be shown. One of the most memorable reminders of this is when Sara finds a fourpence on the street, and goes to buy some buns from the bakery, as she is extremely hungry. After the kind baker gives her 6 penny buns instead of 4, she gives 5 of them to a beggar child, who is starving, keeping only 1 for herself. This action shows Sara to be a true Princess- not by posession alone, but by her self-sacrificing actions, and her selfless giving of whatever she had, be that buns or her time and imagination to tell stories and help with the school work of her friend Ermingaurd, even though she is exhausted and getting caught would mean severe punishment.
This book deserves to be read again and again by all ages, and hold a deserving place on the family bookshelf.