Orphaned Heidi lives with her gruff but caring grandfather on the side of Swiss mountain, where she befriends young Peter the goat-herd. She leads an idyllic life, until she is forced to leave the mountain she has always known to go and live with a sickly girl in the city. Will Heidi ever see her grandfather again? A classic tale of a young girl's coming-of-age, of friendship, and familial love, Heidi has inspired countless dramatic versions, both on TV and in film, including Shirley Temple's famous 1937 version.
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.