Sara Crewe, ten years old, leads a delightful life. Her father, a British officer, provides her with all of the comfort his wealth and charm allow. When he dies, a cold-hearted schoolmistress turns Sara into a drudge. How does she cope?
There is a plethora of versions of this perennial favorite available, and the issue becomes which one to choose. This unabridged edition is accompanied by a "Forward" in which Nancy Bond recounts Burnett's early years of poverty in Tennessee. A born storyteller with a rich imagination, Burnett turned to writing at the age of seventeen. Originally published in 1905, her classic work tells the story of Sara Crewe, daughter of a the wealthy Captain Crewe, who is sent to live at Miss Minchin's boarding school in her father's absence. There, the domineering Miss Minchin defers to her wealth while secretly disliking her. When Sara's father dies and his fortune is lost, Miss Minchin reacts by having Sara become a servant and she is treated with scorn and derision by the students and headmistress alike. Then a family moves in across the street, Sara recognizes the furnishings as being from India, and begins to converse with the Indian manservant whose attic room is across from her own. When Sara finds extra food, warm blankets, and books in her room, she begins to fantasize about meeting the "Indian gentleman" she feels is responsible. Sara's reward comes when she crosses the street to return the "Indian gentleman's" escaped monkey and learns his real name is Mr. Carrisford. When he realizes that she is Captain Crewe's daughter, he tells her that her father's fortune has been restored. Happily she shares her wealth with Becky, her one true friend at the school, and goes to live with Carrisford. The cover illustration of this paperback edition is bordered with roses and features a pensive, wide-eyed Sara. Young girls still are drawn to this compelling riches-to-rags-and-back-again story, featuring a perfect heroine and a perfectly nasty villain. The text, though seemingly dense, moves with an engaging prose and Sara's predicament will keep readers hooked until the happy ending. Parents who select this title will discover a great family read-aloud. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey