The little prince reminds us to have the proper perspective on the world around us: to be attentive and present, to know why we do what we do, to remain ever-curious, ever-inquisitive, ever-questioning, to remember the things that matter--and those that don't. A child can't realize the significance of the lesson, because it hasn't yet been lost on him. The little prince's vantage point is the only one he's ever known.
The little prince isn't alone in carrying insights that are lost on a child. What of Alice in her wonderland and mirrored adventures? Alice's story may have been born from a tale told to children one lazy afternoon, but it became much more: a deep philosophical meditation.
In his Alice books, Lewis Carroll delves into such tricky ideas as the nature of identity and existence, the concept of nothingness and the quality of time, the line between sanity and insanity, between reality and dreams—and he does it in such a light-handed fashion that it almost makes you forget how weighty is the intellectual ground he covers.
From the book's opening, we see Alice wrestling with existential dilemmas. How does she know she is she—and who is she, anyway? Does her essence change with her appearance, or does it remain immutable no matter what external changes—growing, shrinking, falling, traipsing through strange doors and such—take place? Can Alice be Mabel? She's sure she can't, "for I know all sorts of things, and she, oh, she knows such a very little! Besides, she's she, and I'm I, and--oh dear, how puzzling it all is!" But soon enough, Alice realizes she's forgotten what she's known. Can she be Mabel after all, then? Does her knowledge make her who she is? Tricky business, this question of being.
In the Looking Glass, we encounter the forest that takes away the names of things—including little girls. Alice doesn't want to lose her name. For if she did, they would "have to give me another, and it would be almost certain to be an ugly one." Ugliness aside, notice that Alice never wavers in her certainty that everything must have a name. Namelessness may just as well be nonexistence.
And yet, as Carroll reminds us, a name is nothing more than a convention. Names are "useful to the people who name them." The world doesn't come with names built in--and continues on with or without the labels we put on it, just like the fawn walks with Alice when they are both anonymous, only to escape when he realizes that Alice is a human child. There's no inherent fear; just the learned dread that comes with the name human. The forest is the land of pure existence without the trappings of convention, that place where the arbitrary connection between name and thing is severed.
The game of name and meaning gains momentum as Alice debates the nature and conventions of language with Humpty Dumpty and peaks with the entrance of the White Knight, with his logical tour-de-force of names, names of names, and everything in between. What's in a name? wrote Shakespeare. Plenty, answers Carroll.