1919 Lippincott Book Cover

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Johanna Spyri 1881; ill Maria L. Kirk, 1919

The text of this review is taken from my 1.17.2021 post, featuring the 1919 Lippincott edtion which is available free in multiple formats on Project Gutenberg.

Heidi is the 1881 story of a little girl who goes to live with her grandfather on a mountain in Switzerland.  She is friends with Peter the goatherd, and later befriends Clara, a little girl in a wheelchair, and eventually is the catalyst for the happiness of her little circle of friends.

I first heard this story as a little girl, and re-reading it this morning I was struck by the feeling that some of these characters have been waiting for me to visit them again.  I’ve often felt like I’ve been searching for something, but couldn’t find it – in fact, didn’t even know what it was.  I think that something could be a little cabin where I can see the stars at night, just like Heidi and her grandfather up on the Alm.

This edition of the book has an intro by an assistant professor of English in which he goes on at length about the tranlator (who happens to be his wife) but says this about Johanna Spyri:

“As to the author, Johanna Spyri, she has so entirely lost herself in her creation that we may pass over her career rather rapidly. She was born in Switzerland in 1829, came of a literary family, and devoted all her talent to the writing of books for and about children.” 

I did some Googling, and found conflicting information about the author – one article says she drew from a story that was written fifty years prior, but another presents a 92-year-old woman named Heidi Schwaller who is the real Heidi.  I want to get this post up now, so I’m not going to say more about this, but I’ll post a Part 2 when I’ve learned more.