Heidi by Johanna Spyri: A review

Twentieth book reviewed as part of the 130 Challenge.

I first came to know about Heidi when I saw Arupusu no Shōjo Haiji (Heidi, Girl of the Alps), a beautiful anime based on the book. I couldn’t watch the entire series and missed a major portion of it, so I decided that I will someday read the book so that I get to know what happens to Heidi and how the story progresses.

This week, I heard of an app on the play store – LibriVox Audio Books Free, that makes available audiobooks from the public domain and for free! I have wanted to try listening to audiobooks for quite some time and since the story of Heidi is a familiar one, I decided I should give it a try. The experience was nice, but I think I would prefer reading instead of being read to.

Heidi Book Cover

This isn’t the version I read. But all other versions depict Heidi as a blonde girl. Only this cover is true to the book. Heidi is supposed to be a girl with beautiful curly black hair.

Coming back to the book, well I was a tad disappointed by it because the anime really raised my expectations. There were quite a few superlatives used to describe the experience of the Alps, but nothing can compare to the sheer bliss of watching beautiful animation by Hayao Miyazaki (I’m a huge fan of his work). So, I had to contend myself with trying to imagine whatever I remembered from the anime, including the brilliant soundtrack.

The story is extremely simple and sweet because it is primarily meant for children. But despite that, Johanna Spyri manages to include a wide range of emotions into it, such as: longing, jealousy, anger and frustration. But she doesn’t dwell too much on the negative emotions and talks mostly of all things bright and beautiful.

Heidi is a lovely little girl and you can’t help but appreciate how adorable she is. Heidi’s grandfather (Uncle Alm) is a kind-hearted gentleman who suffers from a dark past. Heidi helps him overcome that sorrow and he in turn helps Heidi’s friend Clara (a girl who can’t walk) to become well.

This is a good story with nice characters. It is possible that the overtly religious tone of the book and the constant reference to God might make the book sound very preachy. But if that is ignored, it is a nice story for kids.

Saying good night to the mountains, the sun throws his most beautiful rays to them, that they may not forget him till the morning.

Saying good night to the mountains, the sun throws his most beautiful rays to them, that they may not forget him till the morning.

Heidi’s grandfather says this to her when she asks him why the mountains are bathed in orange and red in the evening. The picture used for the background is from the anime. Just look at it!

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10 comments

  1. It used to be on TV here in the 1970s. It was a film version and dubbed into English but the dubbing wasn’t very good so the actors’ mouths never moved at the same time as the words.

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    1. I saw it when I was about 10. Maybe I was too daft to notice the audio sync problem, so I thoroughly enjoyed it :D

      I recently watched the original Japanese anime and it was really good. When I watch anime, I try to get the Japanese audio with the subtitles in English. I find the Japanese voice actors to be incredibly emotive!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my! I never knew it was Anime! But thanks for the link. I started watching the show and I used to be so mad at her graandfather! Why is he so grumpy all the time.”

    And not your fault that you stopped watching it, because CartoonNetwork stopped it mid series too. I read the book then! More than a decade back.

    You and I are no longer the target audience for this book, but a little nostalgia never hurt anyone! ;)

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  3. That Anime just looks so peaceful.

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  4. Ahh.. It was my favourite too. Nostalgia Cartoon Network stopped it. But I remember watching the rest of the story sometime on television. I also remember being very very satisfied, and hating the mother’s sister more than the grandfather.

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    1. I never hated the grandfather. I always thought he loved her but had a different way of showing it.

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  5. Dude!!!

    I’ve spent so many hours watching this adorable girl. I HATE Cartoon Network for not doing a repeat of this. I sat with my mum and sister and watch twice a day.

    Aahhh… memories.

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    1. Exactly why I love this cartoon so much. Nostalgia!

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  6. Heck, Aamil, now I’m in the mood to sit back and sob over those days. Curse you.

    PS: I loved how she names that bird Peechee.

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    1. I loved how she names all the animals. Even the beetles and the mice.

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