Last week I concluded my piece in a sentence taken from internet. “Step away from your computer for a little while, crack open a book, and replenish your soul for a little while.” This should be given heed to by young people who usually do not want to detach themselves from their laptops or cell phones. We all bear witness how tiring it is to talk with our children and siblings against their exaggerated inclination towards these things. No need to argue with somebody that we should sometime spend our time on our computers and cell phones. But we all do agree that there should be restriction.
Now let’s come to today’s discussion point. There are a lot of people who have been busy this time reading books. Taking that into consideration, I want to recommend a classic book to parents, teachers and young people in particular. The book is named Heidi. As far as I am concerned this is a special book that should be read by young people in particular. I am very interested in this book and need to suggest you all to take time to read it this winter. As Bill Watterson said, “rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book”.
Heidi was written by a Swiss-born author named Johanna Spyri. She was born near Zurich in Switzerland in 1827 (some say 1829). Spyri who died in 1901 is very well known for her children’s stories. Her first book, Heidi, is best known by many readers all over the world. First it was published in 1880 and translated into English in 1884. Puffin Classics, a renowned publisher, states that “the book was an enormous success in Britain and America and it has been a firm favourite ever since”. This classic work has been translated into many languages. The copy which I bought 35 years back in Addis Ababa from the then local bookstore, Kuraz Publishing Agency, indicates that it was the 20th edition.
According to my reading source, the book “…became a world-wide success story already towards the end of the 19th century and children do still like it today – as a book, as a radio play and as a movie. Heidi is by far the most popular piece of Swiss literature ever written and has been translated from German into 50 languages, been filmed more than a dozen times, and more than 50 million copies of Heidi books have been sold world-wide (Switzerland’s population is only 7 million …)”.
The book is about a young orphan who is sent at the age of five to the Swiss mountains to live with her grandfather. Her aunt named Dete brings her niece to the grandfather as she would move to Frankfurt Town (Germany) for a job. The grandfather is a kind of strange old man who resides like a hermit in the Swiss Alps which is situated very far away from any surrounding villages.
I was so impressed by the flow and the settings of the story… I can smell the cool air of that mountainous country. I can see the goats Heidi tends along with a village shepherd boy, Peter… Everything is vividly visualized… I can see how beautiful the place is, how kind and generous the main characters are. Heidi’s grandfather is a good-hearted man but mistrusts others. This happens after the incident he experiences in his own locality upon his return from his long military service in other places. Therefore, he shows desire to keep little Heidi from all ‘evils’ of the outside world. He refuses to send her to school. Heidi goes to the pastures along with Peter, the village goatherd boy… We read how beauty the rural world is… (I want you to think of our beautiful rural localities… probably the ones where you were born and brought up in.) We see through Heidi how healing the country is for body, spirit and soul! Now, there is no need to go farther. I will have to leave you here so that you can search and enjoy reading this wonderful book.
Many readers across the world expressed their views regarding Heidi. One can read these views and comments in the internet. But for the time being, let’s see some of the comments verbatim. I feel there is no need to mention the names of the individuals who put down their views. Taking a look at the major points of the comments verbatim is quite enough. First, it is better to start by reading a blurb written on the back cover of the book published by Puffin Classics. “The classic story of an unwanted child who finds love and happiness against all the odds. Bringing with it the keen scent of mountain air, Heidi is a tender, warm-hearted book that never seems to grow stale.”
“…One of the best children books I have ever read. The author seems to have mastered the art of storytelling as there is a fine balance between the narration, characters and their dialogue, the subtle message that each character echoes into our hearts. This is a priceless fable that each of us must savour to save and revive the child in us…”
“… Heidi [the main character] is around five years old at the beginning of the novel. She is kind, compassionate and free-spirited, always thinking of how to help others. Alp Uncle known as Grandfather is gruff and grumpy. Dete, Heidi’s aunt looked after Heidi for the first few years of her life. A lovely novel to sit and read it to your children. This book is not in big writing but is set just like a novel that bloggers usually read. I loved reading it once again as it totally refreshed my memory…”
“…It makes one feel happy reading the way Heidi feels happy, cares for people and makes you feel very light…”
“…One of my most favourite childhood books. [It] [t]ells the story about a bright girl who transfers to live to a small mountain… with her sad and rough grandfather. I think it’s an amazing book that deserves to be read by the next generations…
“…The story of Heidi holds a special place in my heart as several years ago my great grandmother introduced me to the novel when she told me it was her favorite. We then sat together and watched the Shirley Temple film and I went to the store to purchase the book after borrowing it from the library twice…”
“…In the end, I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a fun, pleasant book to read. Reading about the transformation in the lives of all of the characters in this book gives you a very nice and satisfying feelings. First, Johanna Spyri did an amazing job sharing the emotions and feelings of Heidi, especially when she was going through rough times. The author also did a great job with the type of persona Heidi had, cheerful and innocent. Along with the great writing style and inspirational characters, the book ‘Heidi’, by Johanna Spyri, is a fun and entertaining novel that I would definitely recommend for others to read…
These are the comments given by readers of Heidi across the world. I am looking forward to reading some more views and comments exceptionally from Ethiopian readers of this book.
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