Heidi

by Johanna Spyri

Other authorsClara M. Byrd (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1925

Collection

Description

An abridged version of Johanna Spyri's classic story of a Swiss orphan who is heartbroken when she must leave her beloved grandfather and their happy home in the mountains to go to school and to care for an invalid girl in the city.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ctpress
I loved it, but then again - I have a high threshold for sentimental stories.

Heidi’s innocence reminded me of Little Lord Fauntleroy. They change everything around them with their boldness and joy. They are kindred spirits. Both are helping to dig out the heart of gold thats buried deep inside a gruff, reclusive man. In Heidi’s case its Alm Uncle who lives in the mountains and who reluctantly have to raise orphaned Heidi all alone.

This story also let me reflect upon the providence of God as it is one of the themes in the novel. The book is filled with “God-talk” - too preachy? Maybe. But somehow nothing beats the simple straightforward faith of a little child. The grandmother in Frankfurt teaches Heidi to pray and talks in length about God’s providence - and Heidi reflects several times upon it later in the book and talks to Alm Uncle and her friend Clara about it:

“We must go on praying for everything, so that God may know we do not forget that it all comes from Him. If we forget God, then He lets us go our own way and we get into trouble; grandmamma told me so. And if He does not give us what we ask for we must not think that He has not heard us and leave off praying, but we must still pray and say, I am sure, dear God, that Thou art keeping something better for me, and I will not be unhappy, for I know that Thou wilt make everything right in the end”.

Well, thanks Heidi. For your love of goats, flowers and for reading all those hymns for your blind grandmother and for bringing her soft white bread to eat and pillows so she can sleep. And for always praying as your grandmother in Frankfurt told you to - and for believing - even when God does not answer - that he is keeping something better for you.
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LibraryThing member Redon
Normally I have a very high tolerance for old-fashioned stories featuring unrealistically saccharine children; I'm very fond of A Little Princess, The Five Little Peppers, and the like. I have to say, though, Heidi exceeded my limits. Part of it is that I have a distinct dislike for preachy characters; Heidi gets religion partway through the book (for no reason other than that someone tells her to do so), and for the rest of the story is prone to breaking out in lectures about how good God is and how one must never forget to pray. It isn't so frequent that I couldn't have overlooked it, but I didn't find the rest of the story charming enough to make up for it.

There's far too much telling rather than showing in the narration; aside from one cute interlude in the schoolroom, we are generally only informed that Heidi shakes up the Sesemann household and makes it more interesting and cheerful. Mostly what we are shown is Heidi moping around and bursting into tears because she's homesick for the Alps, and it's not terribly clear why most of the household seems to find her such a treasure. When she's in the Alps, she tends to be a bit of a broken record about how beautiful everything is or how she wants to do X to help Y/is going to do X to help Y/is so happy she got to do X to help Y; it gets extremely repetitive, even for a children's book.

The other characters weren't any more interesting; Heidi's friend Peter is a sullen little thing who rarely does anything aside from get violently jealous whenever Heidi pays attention to someone else (to the point that it's vaguely disturbing), and the grandmother apparently exists only to be an object of pity. Heidi's grandfather is supposed to be a grouchy old man melted by the sheer force of Heidi's charisma, but seeing as this transformation takes place more or less five minutes after they're introduced, it's not terribly convincing; even the infamous Little Lord Fauntleroy pulled it off more gracefully. The Sesemanns don't get enough dialogue to be very interesting as individuals, aside from Fraulein Rottenmeier, who is intended to be unlikeable. I did like Sebastian the butler, but then I also kept accidentally replacing him with Sebastian from Black Butler in my mind's eye - which was a terribly entertaining thought, of course, but had little to do with the story as written.

The plot is fairly meandering, and not enough really happens to compensate for the weak characters. (It did make me laugh once, though, when Heidi's Aunt Dete comes to the grandfather's hut in her floor-length, sweeping skirts and the narration points out that there are things on the floor of a goatherd's hut that do not belong in a dress.) The descriptions of the Alps were lovely, of course, and if all you're interested in is the scenery, go ahead. Otherwise, there are plenty of books about adorable, cheerful little girls spreading sweetness and light in their wake, and I'd choose a different one.
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LibraryThing member starbox
After a recent trip to Switzerland, was motivated to re-read after about 50 years. - and it's amazing how much comes back to me. Even the names of the goats, the nasty Fraulein Rottenmeier...
Reading it as an adult, it IS a tad saccharine and religious ; but it's not aimed at adults, and I loved it as a child.
When orphaned Heidi is dumped on a curmudgeonly grandfather, living apart from the rest of the village on a mountain, the neighbours foresee her having a tough time. But the old man gradually unbends, and Heidi soon adores the outdoors life, helping goatherd Peter with the animals and visiting his blind grandmother. But then Heidi's aunt whisks back into their life, having found the child a 'situation' as companion to a well-to-do wheelchair-bound girl in Frankfurt...
Much homesickness, a taking on board of the precepts of Christianity...and a successful ending for all.
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LibraryThing member overthemoon
The name of the translator is not indicated. I bought this online for my niece but upon reception thought it would be unappealing to her, as the translation is rather stilted, leaving all the proper names in German (for example the goats Distelfink and Schneehopli rather than Goldfinch and Snowhopper as they are in my ancient childhood edition). Also the black and white illustrations based on the cut-out patterns of the Pays d'Enhaut, are attractive for adults but maybe less so for children. So I decided to keep it for myself, and am reading it but occasionally comparing with my Heirloom Library edition, which is maybe more old-fashioned in tone but more natural. Examples: grandfather in this one is called the Alm-Uncle, in the Heirloom he is Nunky. And compare the chapter headings:
1 The Alm-Uncle - To Nunky on the Heights
2 At the Grandfather's - At Grandad's
3 In the Pasture - Out on the Pastures
4 At the Grandmothers - At Grannie's
5 Two Visits and their Consequences - A Visit, and a Second, more fateful visit
6 A New Chapter and entirely new scenes - A New Chapter, and quite new adventures
7 Fräulein Rottenmeier has an uncomfortable day - A troublesome day for Miss Rottenmaier
8 Disturbances in the Sesemann house - More stormy days in the Sesemann household
9 The Master of the house hears of strange doings - Mr Sesemann comes home, and is told all sorts of strange things
10 A Grandmamma - Grandmamma
11 Heidi improves in some respects, and in others grows worse - Heidi loses weight, but gains in another way
12 The Sesemann House is haunted - A ghost in the Sesemann household
13 Up the Alm on a summer evening - Up to the heights on a summer evening
14 Sunday when the church bells ring - Church bells on Sunday

and so on.
I wonder how many different translations exist, and whether there is one that sounds sufficiently childish and modern (Heidi, after all, is only five at the start of the book and eight when she goes to Frankfurt).
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LibraryThing member satyridae
How is it that I read this as a kid and never noticed the heavy-handed Christian proselytizing? It's treacly and pious and unrealistic in so many ways, and yet the parts where Heidi is trapped in the city, longing for her home on the mountain, are some of the truest, saddest chapters ever written. And the moments on the mountain with the goats are pure poetry. Ultimately the preaching weighs down the lyricism of the mountain parts for me.… (more)
LibraryThing member Lisa2013
recommended for: girls of all ages

I reread this story frequently as a girl. One of the most evocative and effectively descriptive books I’ve ever read. A wonderful story about a young girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Loved the side story that takes place in town away from her grandfather as well. I always craved cheese and bread as I read the story, and there was nothing more satisfying than curling up with Heidi and some cheese & bread. When young, I didn’t understand that the goat cheese described in the book was different from the cow’s milk cheese I ate. (Now that I’m a long term vegan, I would no longer crave any animal procured cheese, but I think I’d still enjoy the story.) A worthy children’s classic.

The sequels: Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children were written by a different author – the original author’s translator. I enjoyed them, but they were not as pleasurable to read as Heidi.
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LibraryThing member SesameG
I loved this book as a child, but now... Heidi is a little bit over the top in her 'high on life in the mountains' approach. Also, there is the strange scene where Peter must learn to read and is 'encouraged' by rhymes that tell him he'll be beaten or shipped off to the Hottentots if he doesn't succeed! Still worth reading, but... just the tiniest bit psycho, IMHO.… (more)
LibraryThing member martensgirl
I have mixed views about this book. On one hand, it is sickeningly twee, with a heavy dose of religion thrown in. On the other hand, it was written over 130 years ago in God-fearing times, when people respected the upper classes. Still, Heidi's endless selflessness and do-gooding is rather nauseating.
LibraryThing member momma2
I was actually surprised at how much the kids really enjoyed this book. This story has a very simple charm although for me I will have to say the charm was tainted a little when I read that it was supposedly autobiographical. It just seems wrong to paint yourself as a saint. But as a fictional character Heidi is the epitome of sweetness, light and charity. Even the antagonists in the story are very mild. Everything about this story was a little saccharine but apparently the kids enjoy that because they begged for more. Oh and the goats, we loved the German names of the goats!… (more)
LibraryThing member monado
I liked this when I was a child. Now I'd find it a little to simple and wholesome.
LibraryThing member idie33
Being of the same name makes me kind of biased, but I really have come to love this book. I like the actual book so much better than Shirly Temple's movie version.
LibraryThing member noonwitch
I have an antique edition, that was my mom's when she was a kid. The story is about love, loyalty and helping other people.
LibraryThing member ysar
I haven't read this one since childhood, but I distnctly remember staying up late, hoping my parents didn't notice the light on, and trying desperately to finish this before falling asleep. A truly enjoyable story.
LibraryThing member osunale
I checked this book out from the library numerous times in my elementary school years. Something about the warm-hearted and spirited mountain girl Heidi always kept me running back to this book, though it was perhaps the beautiful descriptions of the mountains and the goats that most fascinated me - I had no trouble reading and then re-reading some of the best passages for hours on end.

Finally bought my own copy a couple of years ago when walking through a used books store contemplating purchasing possibilities: I passed the children's section and Heidi jumped to mind, and, luckily, it was in stock. I read it again and found it every bit as enjoyable as I did when younger, though I find myself even more drawn to the outdoors imagery as opposed to the people than I did before. If the book has any fault, it is that its innocent-girl-changes-all-the-bitter-people-around-her story is a little too sweet, sometimes bordering on the preachy, and is, at times, almost laughable. But it's difficult to really hold this against the work, as it is rather a moral story for children. In that light it succeeds brilliantly. Any child that doesn't get to experience the simple joy that is Heidi is missing out on a treasure among books.
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LibraryThing member odkins
This was opne of the gfirst books I read. I absolutely adored and re-read it many times. I love being transported to the Alps which seemed like another planet to me. Heidi chronicals the experinces of a little girl in a specific time and place, yet those experienbces have universal appeal.
LibraryThing member NicoleHC
Little girl's classics. Read around same time as Little Women.
LibraryThing member fladdle
I'm surprised find myself enjoying this book with its evocative descriptions of the mountainside and its layered characters. Who would have thought that a book written in 1881 could "talk" to me, 130 years later? I also wonder why no translater has been given credit in this edition (which is Aladdin, but published in 2000).
LibraryThing member Nickki
Heidi lives with her grandpa in his little wooden house, high up in the mountaines of Switzerland.
One day her aunt comes and takes her to Frankfult. And then, Haidi met Clara,who has lost the use
of her legs.
This story is very famous in Japan. so, I watched many times on the TV when i was little.
no matter i know this story well, i would enjoy this warm story.
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LibraryThing member Mialro
Sweet story. Rather religious without crossing the line into preachy. Love her idyllic existence with her grandfather; that's probably my favorite part of the book.
LibraryThing member nacchin
"Heidi" Maby everyone know her name and this story is very famouse in Japan. Heidi is pure and charming girl. Sometimes there are some troubles, but She overcome and live happy in great nature.
This book warmed me especialy for the sake of the character of Heidi. As you know, she is very cute girl. If you read this book, you like her more and more.… (more)
LibraryThing member mcrook
I love this book. It is a beautiful piece of writing. I have always wished I could be like Heidi. She is a beautiful character with a beautiful personality. This book is about a young girl who is sent to live with her grandfather up at the top of a mountain. She is a simple girl who never complains and grows to love the mountain. Her love softens her grandfather and the other people with whom she comes in contact with throughout the book. She is a true example of a friend.… (more)
LibraryThing member stubbyfingers
I was a little worried when I started reading this that because it is a childrens book it would be too far below me and I wouldn't enjoy it. But I never read it as a kid and I wanted to know what it was about so I gave it a try. It turned out to be totally enjoyable. Yes, it was a little young, but not to the point of making it boring. It was a little too preachy for my tastes, increasingly so as the story progressed, but overall it was fun.… (more)
LibraryThing member Clurb
Wholesome, rather religious, fresh-air and exercise stuff, complete with naughty goats, moaning grannies and a tortoise.
LibraryThing member bexaplex
Schmaltzy, yes, but also endearing. Who doesn't want to run from yucky Frankfurt into the Alps and live on goat milk?
LibraryThing member Carolyn7727
Beautiful- a classic, a simple story of a little girl growing up in the mountains.

Series

Publication

James C. Winston Company

Language

Original language

German

Original publication date

1880-1881

Physical description

284 p.
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