One of the most popular pieces of children’s literature ever written
After the death of her mother, Heidi, a rosy-cheeked six-year-old, is dropped off on the doorstep of her grandfather, who lives in the mountains above a Swiss town. Grandfather is a frightening and withdrawn old man who has no use for the antics of a young girl, but the whole town falls in love with Heidi’s innocent spirit, and she in turn begins to feel affection for her grandfather.
From the blooming meadows in the valley of the Swiss Alps to a “haunted” house in Frankfurt, Johanna Spyri’s classic is suffused with Heidi’s warmth.
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This truncated retelling of orphan Heidi's simple life in the Swiss Alps and her sojourn in the big city seems almost as indebted to the Shirley Temple film as to Johanna Spyri's 1880 novel. Krupinski's (A New England Scrapbook) heroine mimics Temple, curls, button nose and all, though she lacks the actress's expressive smile and gestures. Similarly blank-faced characters contrast with Krupinski's serene, lushly idealized landscape paintings: the people seem like wax dolls, but the glowing blankets of flowers make the Alps heaven on earth. The text emphasizes the sensual joys of fresh goat's milk, fir trees "with their piney scent," Heidi's sweet-smelling bed in her grandfather's hay loft, etc., but that is its only demonstrable strength. Both Heidi's relationship with her grandfather and the idealized subplot about wheelchair-bound Klara's learning to walk are woodenly described; little space is given to dialogue and even less to Heidi's emotions. The plot, too, is severely condensed: "Many more good things happened after that day." The book succeeds as a portrayal of the joys of mountain life, but otherwise fails to do justice to Spyri's story of a girl's courage and persistence. Ages 5-9.