This winter I read The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with my eight year old son. If you haven't read it before, stop what you are doing and visit your public library, favourite bookstore, or online bookseller and get a copy now. There may be spoilers below.
We began reading The Little Prince in anticipation of the Canadian release of the new animated feature film. It easily became our favourite time of day as we snuggled up and followed the interplanetary adventures of the little prince who loved a flower. It opened the door to many discussions about life, love and growing up. We talked about looking after the little things before they become big things, like the baobab trees. We talked about vanity and addiction. It opened up my son's imagination, while for me it became a challenge and even a chastisement of the sad state of grown-ups so consumed with the opinion of others, image, and matters of consequence, that the really important things in life are ignored.
And then we got the end of the story. I could barely read as the tears kept catching in my throat. Finally I got through it and closing the book I looked up at my little prince's face. With tears streaming down his face he said, "You could have warned me it was going to end like that." And we both cried together. It was ugly and messy and beautiful. I tried to make excuses, "I forgot it ended that way...I didn't know...maybe I hadn't actually ever read to the end before," I told him. He looked betrayed. And we cried some more--he for the prince he grew to love, I for the pilot and his needling anxiety. If you ask him now he'll tell you he loved the story, through the wonder, the adventure and even the grief.
It didn't end there though. My prince got out his tablet and spent weeks recreating the book in Minecraft. This was completely his own idea. He built all of the planets, (including the tippler's planet featuring a witch who drinks a poison potion) and he recreated the important scenes from the story. His avatar can walk around the universe he has created, and so now he has immersed himself in the story. This has given him an incredible ability to retell and comprehend the big ideas of the book. I have never before seen him engage at this level with a narrative and it may have even won me over to Minecraft (a little). I've posted some screen captures of his creation below.
Unfortunately we missed the opportunity to see the film. It was here for a week and then was pulled from theatres and sold to Netflix. While we are waiting for the Netflix debut I hope to read it again. This time en français avec ma petite princesse.
And so for today I am thankful for the truth revealed through fiction, bonding over books, and soaring imaginations. That's my two cents' worth. How about you? Is there a book you remember reading as a child? Has a story ever reduced you to tears? Is there a drop everything, go to the library, book that everyone must read? Share in the comments below.
A penny for your thoughts?