Monday, September 22, 2008

Children's Book Monday

Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince
Illustrated by Robin Muller

If you haven't read this sweet fairy tale, snuggle in with your little ones and be prepared to gently weep your way through. (Which isn't bad at all- their little hands may encircle your neck in sympathy!) This story was written when Oscar Wilde's son, Cyril, was an infant, and while his other works and, in particular, his lifestyle, are not appropriate for children, according to Wilde: "The Happy Prince was meant partly for children, and party for those who have kept the childlike faculties of wonder and joy..."

The happy prince is, in actuality, a golden statue that stands on a column high above the city. He is much admired by all, and thought of as quite happy from a distance. But when a little Swallow, who stayed behind when his friends flew to Egypt, alights at the feet of the "happy" prince, he finds that all is not as it seems.

For the prince is not happy, and cries great tears of sorrow as he tells his story to the little Swallow. From his vantage point high above the city, the prince can see the poor and hungry, and begs the Swallow to carry a jewel from his sword hilt to a needy family. When the Swallow does so, he finds that he is curiously warm when he returns, though winter is upon them, and the prince assures him that it is his good action that has warmed him.

The Swallow determines to follow his friends to Egypt where it is warmer, but the prince begs him to stay one more night, and then another, to do small kindnesses on his behalf.

And when winter comes, the Swallow realizes it is too late to fly away and knows now that he no longer desires to. He serves the prince faithfully, until the end...

I said you would be weeping, didn't I?

This story has a lovely ending, a beautiful moral, and is a must-own in this household.

Happy Reading!

4 fellow travelers shared:

Anonymous said...


Oh dear, I'm no good at reading sad stories either. But this looks like it has a wonderful message, so we'll check it out!

Thank you for recommending it!


~nanashouse~ said...

We just read this story in Literature (Tyler is in 7th grade).
We both loved it!

Karly said...

My kids are so used to me crying when I read to them. We joke that I almost can't read anything out loud without crying!! (maybe I shouldn't tell everything I know:-) This looks like a great story; I'll add it to my list.

Edi said...

I remember that story from when I was young...I think I first recall my mom re-telling it to us and then maybe around Christmas it was on tv.

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