Heidi – Johanna Spyri, retold by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Briony May Smith

  Heidi – Johanna Spyri, retold by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Briony May Smith, Nosy Crow, (9781536214222), 2020 

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre: Classic fiction

What did you like about the book? This is an abbreviated retelling of Heidi by Johanna Spyri.  Though much is left out, it does not feel like it.  There are illustrations, done in mixed media, on every page with frequent two-page spreads.  Orphan Heidi is taken to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps where she instantly feels at home and happy spending her days with the sheepherder Peter and his sheep.  All is going well until Heidi is taken to live in town as a companion to a girl who has recently lost her mother and is not coping well.  Though this is not a bad existence, Heidi longs for the beauty and quiet of the mountains.  The illustrations capture perfectly the time when this story took place with great attention to detail; one can so easily imagine themselves in it.

Anything you did not like about the book?  Though I thought the illustrations were wonderfully done, the drawing of the mouth on the characters with a little line as a child would do, instead of keeping with the quality of the rest of the drawing, seemed very out of place and odd, almost as if someone else drew the mouths in –

To whom would you recommend this book? This could make a nice bedtime story or sharing with a class of kindergarten through second graders.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books or oversize fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  If you are unfamiliar with the original telling, this might be the place to start – and then compare  by reading the original.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Manager, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review: 10/26/2020

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