by Johanna Spyri

Conditional Recommendation: A young, orphaned girl touches many lives when she goes to live on the Alps with her gruff grandfather.

Age: Middle Grade
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 352
Published: 1880

Genre: Classic

This would be a great book to read aloud before bed night after night. The pacing is slow and gentle, Heidi is cheery and delightful, and the little everyday adventures she has with the people in her life are entertaining and heartwarming. The story is relaxing and the settings are gorgeous. Heidi is a good girl, pure, and hard not to love. She is a Pollyanna character, or perhaps better stated, a Christ-like character. She imparts new life, light and blessings upon all those who have a relationship with her. This is a sweet book with Christian themes, a high reverence for God, His creation, and caring for others.

Summary from the Publisher

Little orphan Heidi goes to live high in the Alps with her gruff grandfather and brings happiness to all who know her on the mountain. When Heidi goes to Frankfurt to work in a wealthy household, she dreams of returning to the mountains and meadows, her friend Peter, and her beloved grandfather.

Goodness and Truth

This book is sprinkled with Christian lessons on who God is and how He interacts with people such as through prayer and working all things—including things meant for evil—together for good. Characters discuss talking to the “dear Lord” through prayer and how we should talk to Him about everything. But we must also remember that He knows best and if He doesn’t answer your request, don’t give up on Him; instead recognize that He likely has something better in store that we cannot see. Essentially, Heidi is encouraged to keep praying and to trust when she cannot see.

There is also a lovely salvation picture towards the end of the book. Peter does something evil and feels guilty and afraid of being found out and punished. But when the truth of what he’s done comes out, instead of finding wrath, he finds grace, abundant grace. It’s a truly beautiful picture of how God is towards every human—forgiving sin and freely offering blessing above what we ask or think.

These aren’t the only instances of goodness of truth in this book: There’s healing of many different sorts, restoration, caring for the poor and needy, delighting in God’s creation, and more. There’s also many Christ-like qualities to observe in Heidi’s character and her effect on other people. I love stories that lead me to thinking of Jesus Christ and His good character!

Recommendation Note

A clear distinction isn’t made between salvation and sanctification (the Christian life after salvation). Characters are portrayed as either interacting with God or not interacting with God with nothing mentioned about being saved or unsaved. This, unfortunately, leans in the direction that being a Christian is all about your works. This ambiguousness leads to another issue: The Grandmother tells Heidi that if we don’t forget about God He won’t forget about us, but if we do forget about God then He’ll forget about us. I can’t find any Scripture to support this idea either for salvation or sanctification. The God of the Bible isn’t a God who abandons us based on what we do or don’t do in life once we’re saved.

Where to Find this Book: Amazon* or your local library!

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