by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published 1886
“His greatest charm was this cheerful, fearless, quaint little way of making friends with people. I think it arose from his having a … kind little heart that sympathized with everyone, and wished to make everyone as comfortable as he liked to be himself.”
Certain phrases feel like they have had no beginning, they’ve been eternal in our culture. For me, the phrase Little Lord Fauntleroy had that feeling. Until suddenly there it was — an actual book. Finding this children’s book, the first ever written by Burnett, was like going to the pure, unpolluted, ancient source of story itself, (as beautifully described in Rushie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories.)
I loved Little Lord Fauntleroy from beginning to end. I couldn’t help but think of Burnett’s A Little Princess because they are really parallel stories: rags to riches to rags, (or riches to rags to riches), and kindness and goodness that only an angel could pull off. However, there is yet another really important message in Little Lord Fauntleroy. The idea that we can live up to the goodness that another sees in us, especially if we love that other, is a wonderful vision to take in.
For me, the unremitting goodness and generosity of the little boy is what pulled me in and kept me reading…unwilling to put the book down until I knew for certain that his goodness was rewarded, and nothing bad happened to him. This despite the clear message that if something ‘bad’ did happen, it would not change his innate, kind character. Nevertheless, I love happy endings.
This is an easy and fun to read children’s book. There is not a single scary moment, and yet it feels sufficiently dramatic, especially for the younger set. I personally would read it aloud to the 7 to 9-year-olds, though I suppose a few 5 and 6-year-olds would enjoy it too. I don’t want to categorize it as boys only, as it certainly is not that. However, again, with the main character being a young boy, it is nice for parents of boys to have this one on their radar. Five stars, for sure!