Sara Crewe, the protagonist of “A Little Princess,” is a Mary Sue.
A Mary Sue is when the author inserts his or herself into the narrative. The resulting character has a host of good qualities and no faults. Everyone loves her–except the villain, whose villainy is proved by how much they dislike the heroine.
That’s Sara Crewe. The only people in the book who don’t like her are the villains. A lot of the characters almost literally worship her. The narrative becomes dark when Sara is robbed of her rightful high position and honor in the world.
There’s some great moments in the book. Sara may be a Mary Sue, but she is there is still something magical about her. Her stories, her imagination–these have power, a power that influences both the characters and the reader. But that doesn’t make her a good protagonist, or “A Little Princess” a good book.