by Johanna Spyri

Other authorsDonna Pacinelli (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1986



Local notes

Fic Spy

Illustrated by Donna Pacinelli






Unicorn Pub House (1986), Edition: (1st,1880); 1st Prtg.thus, 214 pages. $16.95.


A Swiss orphan 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.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

214 p.; 10 inches

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
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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
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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
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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 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
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succeed! Still worth reading, but... just the tiniest bit psycho, IMHO.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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 texicanwife
Call it a desire to revisit an old friend, but when I came across this copy of Heidi by Johanna Spyri I simply had to purchase it.

You see, Heidi was the first full-length novel I ever read as a youth. Heidi was a little girl, of my own age, at the time I read it, and I was enamored with her
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adventures on the Alm with her grandfather, The Alm-Uncle.

In Heidi we find a child who has been dealt a hard life, but who with the grace of God, learns to make something good out of even the worst situation. She touches each individual who comes into her life, blessing and enriching their lives as no other could.

In this edition of Heidi, we are given a brief biography of the author at the end of the book.

Born 1827 at Hirzel, Switzerland the author was named Johanna after her father, Dr. Johann Jacob Heusser, and was nicknamed Hanni. Her mother was a poet.

Well versed in education, and well-travelled, she eventually married a schoolmate of her brother's, Bernhard Spyri, in 1852 when she was 25.

Hanni, it is said, wrote the very first of her stories to entertain the wounded soldiers of the War of 1870. Heidi was the very first of her longer stories, and was first published in 1880. Outliving both her husband, and only son, Hanni spent a great deal of time with a little niece, it is said she wrote many of her stories to please the child.

Hanni died in 1901 at the age of 74.
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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
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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!
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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 monado
I liked this when I was a child. Now I'd find it a little to simple and wholesome.
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 Clurb
Wholesome, rather religious, fresh-air and exercise stuff, complete with naughty goats, moaning grannies and a tortoise.
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member Lauren7299
Heidi is a great book. Its full of adventures for this little girl. Its about her going to her grandfathers who is a very grumpy old man but in the end he turns out to be caring, loving and full of joy! She starts out as a 6 year old trying to find fun in her life and then she meets a boy called
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Peter and he helps with all the goats. Peter has got a sweet blind old granny that loves the sound of Heidis voice when she reads the old lady wondorous storys.
Its my FAVOURITE book.
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LibraryThing member NicoleHC
Little girl's classics. Read around same time as Little Women.
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 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
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Aladdin, but published in 2000).
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LibraryThing member bigorangecat
A wonderfully written children's book that this "boomer" still loves to read.
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 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
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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.
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LibraryThing member sharty
The descriptions in this book allow the reader to feel the mountains around her. Heidi is an honest, caring, open child--almost a cross between a present day Junie B. Jones and Amelia Bedilia. She finds herself in trouble due to her absolute purity and innocense, but she is loved deeply by those
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she encounters. The story begins as she trudges up the mountain to meet her grumpy old grandfather, but it doesn't take him long to experience joy in Heidi's presence. Peter, the goatheard, finds great friendship with Heidi, and his grandmother loves her voice, especially when she learns to read. She spends time in Frankfurt as a companion to Clara, a disabled girl, but she returns to her grandfather on the mountain as she becomes horribly homesick. Clara comes to visit Heidi on the mountain, and Peter becomes very jealous leading to a transformation in Clara.
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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 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.
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If you read this book, you like her more and more.
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LibraryThing member the1butterfly
So, okay, Heidi's one of those characters that're excessively perfect, but the story is captivating nonetheless. Heidi's creative, and her fun in the Alps was fun to read about. What I remember perhaps the most about this book was that she learned to read after she discovered the value of reading-
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that the letters held words and stories.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
Still treacly. Still piously Christian in every particular. But still and all, wonderful. When poor Heidi is away from her mountain, my heart breaks for her. When she is with the goats, I could sing. This audio version is nicely done, and makes a beautiful bedtime story.

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