Libraries and bookstores! Shelves upon shelves and books all over the place, full of stories that take you here and there and back again. Some people allow themselves to get lost between the shelves. Others know exactly what they want and head straight for the crime or romance or sci-fi section — or to books on how to make a stellar bird house or knit a pair of striped socks. Such a variety of genres, yet the books have one thing in common: Someone wrote them, word for word. With pencil or pen on paper in an English manor, on a portable Royal typewriter somewhere in Spain or Italy, or on a 2017 laptop in the coffee shop just around the corner. Fact: Someone has to write the stories. Did you hear that, you reluctant writer? Yes, I hear.
I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.
If you have read The Little Prince, you know what the box below contains. If not, take a guess.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry dedicated The Little Prince (1943) to his good friend Léon Werth, but because the book was a children’s book and Werth was a grown-up, he dedicated it “To Léon Werth, when he was a little boy.” Small details like that make me a happy reader. He doesn’t stop there, of course, but quickly sets the tone for the book: In the opening chapter, the little prince asks the narrator to draw a sheep. The prince is not satisfied with the first drafts, but when the narrator draws a box and explains that the sheep is inside it, he is content. “That’s just the kind I wanted!” he says. Delightfully carved out details — what a gift to the readers.
The Little Prince is 74 years old this week. It was first published April 6, 1943.
Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “The Little Prince”