Friendship is a theme in YA stories that just doesn’t seem to be as developed as some audiences would like it to be. There’s an obvious lack in accurately depicting relationships between characters to the point where it sometimes sours the entire book or movie. Thankfully, there are films and novels like The Little Prince and The Hawkweed Prophecy. Irena Brignull, the screenwriter and author of The Little Prince and The Hawkweed Prophecy, respectively, does an amazing job of developing the theme of friendship in both stories.
The Little Prince is a unique adaptation of the beloved story of the same name originally written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and follows the life of a young girl who is living in a very adult world as she learns what it’s truly like to be a kid. The girl’s mother has controlled most of the girl’s activities and leaves little room for any kind of kid stuff. The mother has gone to great lengths to ensure that her daughter’s life is so structured that the little girl will have no problem fitting into the monotonous life of the average adult in the film.
Being hell-bent on getting her daughter into a prestigious school, the mother moves them to a bland new neighbourhood close to the school. Unfortunately, the only house they could get on short notice was the house that is closest to a dilapidated, unusual home with an even weirder inhabitant. Day after day, the old man living next door tries to get the little girl out of the shell her mother has been crafting all these years and to start behaving like a kid.
To achieve this, the old dude has been using parts of The Little Prince story to open the mind of the little girl and encourage her creativity. The relationship between these two characters is so realistic and is a step above your average Pixar movie. The film also effortlessly shows the many ups and downs of a regular friendship after the little girl gets into an argument with her new friend when he explains to her that he’ll have to “leave her soon” (i.e. he’ll die). Still, thanks to her friendship with the old man, the little girl experiences the world from a different perspective and realizes that her life doesn’t have to be a dull, monotonous one.
Similarly, The Hawkweed Prophecy follows the lives of two special little girls whose bond is stronger than anyone could’ve imagined. Long ago, it was prophesied that one of the Hawkweed sisters would give birth to a daughter who would be queen of all the witches. Disgruntled that her daughter wouldn’t be “the chosen one”, Raven casts a spell on her sister (Charlock) so that Charlock would only have boys. Unfortunately for Raven, Charlock becomes pregnant with a girl when one of their rivals curses them with a plague. This time Raven whips up a strong spell that switches the soul of Charlock’s baby with that of a human child. What Raven failed to understand is that prophecies aren’t things that are easily avoidable and, eventually, these two children whose souls were switched at birth meet and form a bond stronger than any witch thought possible. The kind of friendship that Irena Brignull weaves in this novel between the two girls is one that leaves a stark impression on readers. Ember and Poppy have each other’s back, despite any situation. Poppy even puts aside her love for a boy they both like so that Ember can be happy. Both girls go above and beyond for one another; Ember even resorts to stealing her mother’s stash and risking the secrecy of all witches so that Poppy can learn more about the coven. The story centres initially on sisterhood and fate but friendship is a strong theme that helps to add substance to the already well-written novel.
Portraying friendships in movies and novels isn’t something that just anyone is good at. I’ve gone through massive amounts of Young Adult films and books that lack proper, well-developed relationships and when I do come across ones that do an amazing job, I literally have to gush about them. The Little Prince and The Hawkweed Prophecy are one of the few pieces of work that have done a great job of achieving this.
The Little Prince will be available on Netflix as of today and The Hawkweed Prophecy comes out on September 6th.