Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amaranthine Review: Heidi

Heidi is happy living in the mountains with her grandfather. One day, she is taken to the city to live with the frail and sickly Clara. Heidi longs for green fields and sunshine of the Alps. Perhaps the fresh mountain air can make Clara healthy, too.[from Goodreads]

Johanna Spyri's classic story of a young orphan sent to live with her grumpy grandfather in the Swiss Alps is retold in it's entirety in this beautifully bound hardcover edition. Heidi has charmed and intrigued readers since it's original publication in 1880. Much more than a children's story, the narrative is also a lesson on the precarious nature of freedom, a luxury too often taken for granted. Heidi almost loses her liberty as she is ripped away from the tranquility of the mountains to tend to a sick cousin in the city. Happily, all's well that ends well, and the reader is left with only warm, fuzzy thoughts. Spryi's story will never grow wearisome--and this is a very appealing edition. --Naomi Gesinger
[from Goodreads]
Rating: 3 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Children
High point: Heidi's cheerful attitude
Low point: Simply written
Reader maturity:  7+
Favorite quotes:  "And so the time passed happily on till evening. Then the wind began to roar louder than ever through the old fir trees; Heidi listened with delight to the sound, and it filled her heart so full of gladness that she skipped and danced round the old trees, as if some unheard of joy had come to her."
"Now she stood still to listen to the deep, mysterious voice of the wind, as it blew down to her from the mountain summits, coming nearer and nearer and gathering strength as it came, till it broke with force against the fir trees, bending and shaking them, and seeming to shout for joy, so that she too, though blown about like a feather, felt she must join in the chorus of exulting sounds."

Heidi is the story of a young girl, sent to live with her grouchy grandfather. Heidi'scharming innocence soon opens his heart, and she befriends, not only him, but Peter the goat-herd. As a companion of the invalid Clara, she learns to read and write, skills which she puts to altruistic use.

When I was younger and first read Heidi, I was captivated by her adventures and continually awed outlook on life. I commiserated with her homesickness during her sojourn in Frankfurt with Clara and rejoiced when she returned to her grandfather and helped Peter surprise the schoolteacher. Heidi allowed my imagination to soar while providing engrossing entertainment.

While the story of Heidi is still charming and the titular character just as lovable, something about the story had changed with age. The writing style is too simple, the plot is too plain, and Heidi has become saccharine. The story has become outgrown by its former childhood readers. Regardless, I give this book a "liked it" rating because I adored it as a child, and it was a wonderful book to give to a young reader.

Title:  Heidi,
Author:  Johanna Spyri
Genre:  Children's Fiction and Literature
Year:  1880
Book Source:  Purchased

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