Le bon petit Henri (Nouveaux contes de fées)
This story appears in the Nouveaux contes de fées (1856), which launched the glorious not-quite-twenty-year career of Sophie Rostopchine, Comtesse de Ségur, as a writer of children’s literature.
The entire collection of tales, as well as many other excellent works by this author, can be found at fr.Wikisource.org.
Like most fairy-tales, Le bon petit Henri talks about simple things, in simple language, with, moreover, a fair amount of repetition (most things happen in threes). That simplicity, accompanied as it is with a sound moral lesson (the Countess was nothing if not a strong upholder of Things As They Ought To Be), makes it appropriate to propose as a text for “reading in bulk,” i.e., as something that can be read speedily and with minimal consulting of a dictionary.
However, be advised that children in 19th-century France were expected to know their literary tenses (one hopes they still are), notably the passé simple; and so should you. By all means review the Language File The Simple Past if you feel called on to do so. (Grand-mère Sophie will approve.)
In the version I provide here (which came from fr.Wikisource.org), I have added glosses and other sorts of explanations as endnotes. As well as some very fine images. Before starting in on reading, PLEASE study the first few pages, in which I provide you with very useful information about some recurring constructions.
- You can reformat it to your heart’s delight;
- You can easily access the contents of the endnotes, by placing your cursor over the note number.
The PDF version, for its part, has bookmarks.
What I do not include from the Wikisource site in either version is a few delightful images by none other than Gustave Doré. For your convenience, I am placing them below. They and their captions may give you an idea of whether this is the sort of story for you.
Assiduous readers of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia tales will note a similarity between this story and The Magician’s Nephew.