Fresh mountain air greets you as you open the pages of this much loved children's classic. A charming, childish laugh echoes across the mountains, flying with the great hawk towards the visitors, welcoming them warmly to her mountain home, and floating away down into the town of Dorfli. In the warmer months, goats frolic, leaping to avoid the stick carried by Peter as he herds them up the mountain each day.
This is what meets the reader as they enter the world of Heidi. An idyllic life atop the Swiss Alps, interrupted by a brief stay n Frankfurt before returning home. This is a world that can change people. A world where innocence is lost but then found again, and where true and lasting friends can be made. The reader journeys alongside Heidi, up the mountain to the Alm Uncle in the beginning to Frankfurt, where she befriends Clara and learns to read, and back to her beloved mountain, where what she has learnt in Frankfurt impacts her mountain family in ways they never thought possible.
Heidi is not just a book for children - adults can find joy in it too. A return back to the innocent days of childhood, of wonder. Upon reading Heidi, I found myself wishing to visit Dorfli and the Alp Heidi lived on, to experience the magic she did. Heidi is a book that must be experienced to be understood why it is is so magical, and why it can have such an impact. Like many children's books, it has a message, often said to be didactic but the true joy of Heidi is the message of friendship and belief in oneself, rather than belief in God. The friends Heidi has and their relationship make the book what it is - a joy to read and experience, and effortlessly, within these friendships, each character builds up belief in him or herself and what they are able to do.
It is an excellent read, even if read for the tenth time since childhood - the magic still lies within the pages and the words so lovingly set forth by Johanna Spyri.
I haven't read Heidi since I was a child but it was one of my favourites, along with Black Beauty, and both have remained with me ever since. It's a shame that there are so many books to read that there isn't time to revisit old favourites.