A Little Princess: Book Summary & Characters

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  • 0:03 ''A Little Princess''
  • 0:26 Book Summary
  • 1:28 Sara Crewe
  • 2:11 Miss Minchin
  • 2:45 Mr. Carrisford
  • 3:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

'A Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the story of a wealthy girl, Sara Crewe, who leaves her father to stay in a boarding school in London. Sadly, Sara's father dies and she loses all her riches. What happens to Sara, and who does she meet along the way?

A Little Princess

A Little Princess is the story of Sara Crewe as she moves from wealth to poverty (being poor) and back. She meets the mean Miss Minchin, who treats Sara horribly after she loses her money. Sara also meets the kind and noble Mr. Carrisford, her father's former business partner.

This lesson provides a summary of the book, as well as a description of these three important characters.

Book Summary

Sara leaves for a boarding school in London. Sara doesn't want to leave her home in India, but her father tells her that she must be brave in London. When she arrives at the boarding school, Miss Minchin is impressed with Sara's wealth. Sara lives a pampered life - until word comes that her father has died. She can no longer afford to pay for school, so Miss Minchin sends Sara to live with the young maid Becky. Sara and Becky sleep in the attic, eat scraps, and spend their free time telling each other fanciful stories.

Something magical starts to happen to Sara. When she wakes up, her room is filled with delicious food and other beautiful things. Where did this all come from? Sara doesn't know, but the neighbors have been watching her and Becky. They felt bad for the girls, so they decided to surprise them with all the decadent treats the girls dreamed of.

The neighbor, Mr. Carrisford, is actually the business partner of Sara's father, and has been looking for her. One day, Sara visits Mr. Carrisford, and they realize she's the child he's been looking for! He's been trying to find Sara to tell her that her father has left her enough money for her to be taken care of for the rest of her life.

Sara Crewe

Sara Crewe is the princess from the story. When she is first introduced, she has always lived a very wealthy life with her father. Miss Minchin treats her lavishly, even throwing her a fancy birthday party. Sara is a leader in her school. The other kids are impressed by her wealth and how well she speaks French.

When Sara's life is turned upside-down, she doesn't crumble. She befriends the maid Becky, and the two of them construct an elaborate story world to get through their tough life. Sara escapes into her stories as a way to survive her sadness and newfound poverty. When luck turns around for Sara, and she suddenly has her wealth back, she does not hold it over other people. In fact, she wants to give back. She goes to the bakery and buys bread to pass out to other people who don't have enough to eat.

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