Friday, January 31, 2020

Discussion 4 ~ Heidi Read-Along


Welcome to the fourth and final discussion for the Heidi read-along! If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapter chapters 5-9 of part 2 (the last five chapters of the book). If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post. (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Heidi read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in when you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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HeidiChapters 5-9 (Part 2)

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "Now she had to listen to the wind as it blew down deep and mysterious from the cliffs above, coming nearer and growing mightier, and then leaping into the fir trees, bending and shaking them until it seemed as if it were shouting with delight; and Heidi had to shout too, while she was blown hither and thither like a little leaf."
  • "Do you know why the stars are so full of joy, and wink at us so with their eyes?... Because they see up in heaven how well the dear Lord directs everything for people, so that they need have no worry and can be safe, because everything will happen for the best. That delights them so; see how they wink, that we may be happy too!"
  • "The sky was deep blue, and not a single cloud was to be seen anywhere. The great snow field beyond them sparkled like thousands and thousands of gold and silver stars. The gray rocky peaks stood high and steadfast in their places, as they had done for ages, looking down solemnly into the valley below."
  • "We ought to pray to the dear Lord every day, and about every single thing; for then He will know that we do not forget that we receive everything from Him."
  • "My good grandmother," broke in Frau Sesemann, "before our Father in heaven we are all equally poor, and it is equally necessary to all of us that He should not forget us."

General Impressions

Overall, I found this to be a happy and lovely conclusion to a sweet story!

Perhaps the one part I'm not so satisfied with is Peter's... While he learns to read and also learns an important lesson about no sin staying secret, I would have liked to see more genuine change. He's able to read the grandmother hymns, but he doesn't seem to care about the words and how they bless the grandmother (as he's willing to just drop the difficult ones!). And when Frau Sesemann basically offers to grant him a wish, he chooses something for himself, unlike Heidi and the grandfather, who want to bless others.

But that's a good reminder for me! When there's a chance I could receive something I want, I know I'm more like Peter in my thinking, and I can learn a lot from the giving and selfless nature of Heidi and her grandfather.

One thing that confuses me a bit is Peter's age. In chapter 1 Heidi is said to be about 5 and Peter is 11. So I would think by the end of the book he would be well into his teenage years? I guess I'm not exactly sure, but he seems to be little-boy-like throughout the story...

I love how much good it does Klara to be on the mountain with Heidi! The two of them find so much joy in the simple things, in the beauty of nature and the taste of goat milk and the starry view from their loft. And as we've all been chatting about throughout this read-along, Heidi's trusting and front-and-center faith is so inspiring! I love how easily she talks about God with those around her and how she's determined to always give Him the glory.

Of course, it's absolutely wonderful that, through grace and patience and care, Klara finds healing and is able to walk again! It's a great climax for the story. We go from Heidi being dragged up the mountain by an unkind relative in chapter 1 to new friends falling in love with the mountain and a family/community being formed there as spiritual and physical healing take place. So lovely!

The story ends on a very hopeful note, and I love that the last line talks about praising God "for all that He has done for us" (page 316 in my copy). :)



Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post.

1. What did you think of Peter's reading lessons and Heidi's teaching methods?

2. Which scene did you find the most beautiful or memorable in these last chapters?

3. If you could step into the pages of the book, what would you be most eager to experience? (A night gazing at the stars from the loft? Waking up to the sound of the wind through the fir trees? Sitting among the flowers and goats on the mountain? Or something else?)

Thank you so much for joining the Heidi read-along!
It's been a joy to read and discuss the book with you. :)

*Johanna Spyri, Heidi, trans. Helen B. Dole (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1945), 245, 262, 279, 289, 312-313.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Discussion 3 ~ Heidi Read-Along


Welcome to the third discussion for the Heidi read-along! If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapter 14 of part 1 and chapters 1-4 of part 2. If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post. (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Heidi read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in when you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Heidi: Chapter 14 (Part 1)
and Chapters 1-4 (Part 2)

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "She no longer had the old expression on her face, but appeared happy and thankful, as if she already looked with new bright eyes into the beautiful heavenly garden."
  • "She quietly pushed her book in front of her grandfather and said, 'See, how happy he is!' and pointed with her finger to the picture of the son's return home, where he stands in fresh garments beside his father, and once more belongs to him as his son."
  • "When the people turned to go down the mountain the old man stood for a long time gazing after them, and a warm light was spread over his face, as if the sun shone out from within him. Heidi looked steadily at him and said with delight: 'Grandfather, you never looked so handsome before as you have today!'"
  • "The roaring of the wind always stirred the very depths of Heidi's soul and made her feel that she must run out under the great branches."
  • "The gentleman will have to make the best of it, for if our cooking is plain our dining room is all that could be desired."
  • "Round about, the golden autumn sun shone over the peaks and the distant green valley. Everywhere from the pastures below came the sound of the bells of the herd, so lovely and delightful, as if announcing sweet peace far and wide. The golden sunbeams flashed sparkling and glistening here and there on the great snow fields above, and the gray Falknis lifted its towers of rock in lofty majesty far up into the deep blue sky. The morning breeze blew gently and deliciously over the mountain and softly stirred the last bluebells, still remaining from the great numbers of the summer, and cheerfully nodding their little heads in the warm sunshine." 
  • "In the evening the moon rose very bright and big, and all night long shone over the vast snow fields, and the next morning the whole mountain from top to bottom glistened and glittered like a crystal."

General Impressions

This story is so incredibly sweet! Everything seemed to wrap up so beautifully in chapter 13, but chapter 14 made everything even better. To have Heidi share her childlike faith with her grandfather and to see him repent and find such joy in the Lord—it's wonderful! I loved that he took Heidi down the mountain to church, where he was welcomed back with such warmth and kindness. Ah, such a great ending to part 1!

Also, between Heidi reading the hymns to the grandmother and then reading the story of the prodigal son to her grandfather, we see what a special gift reading can be for oneself and others. ♥

Part 2 is proving to be wonderful too. Disappointments arise and are addressed, but there is a constant sense of optimism and gratitude in the main characters. Heidi's interactions with the doctor are so heartfelt and sweet. I'm glad he was the one to go for the autumn visit. :)

Peter... Well, Klara pretty much has him pegged when she decides she better not designate the gift of sausage in her package solely for him, but make sure his mother divvies it up, LOL. He's a little preoccupied with food and wanting things to go his way. Those preoccupations do make him rather relatable! But I hope he grows up a bit by the end of the story. :)

Heidi and her grandfather's living situation in Dörfli is interesting! I like how the grandfather did his best to prepare the space and make sure Heidi would be comfortable, and it's fun to see how Heidi embraces the adventure of it. Even though she misses waking up in their home on the mountain, I love how she hears her grandfather and the goats in the morning and "felt that she was at home after all" (page 225 in my copy).

All in all, I'm continuing to greatly enjoy Heidi! I'm looking forward to seeing how the story wraps up, although it's bittersweet to think we're already nearing the end. I'm thinking this will be a great story to re-read at some point, for sure!



Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post.

1. Which scene in this section made you the most happy when you read it?

2. In what way has one of the characters inspired you?

3. How would you feel about living in the "mansion" in Dörfli where Heidi and her grandfather spend the winter?


Join us next Friday for our fourth and final discussion! 
(Part 2: Chapters 5-9)

*Johanna Spyri, Heidi, trans. Helen B. Dole (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1945), 175, 179, 183, 197, 204, 210, 225-226.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Discussion 2 ~ Heidi Read-Along


Welcome to the second discussion for the Heidi read-along! If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapters 9-13 (part 1). If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post. (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Heidi read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in when you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Heidi: Chapters 9-13

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*

"How do you do, Lady Gracious?"
"And why not!" said the grandmamma, laughing. "Is that what you say at home? Did you hear that in the Alps?"
"No; no one among us has that name," answered Heidi earnestly.
"Neither has anyone here," said the grandmamma, again laughing, and patted Heidi affectionately on the cheek. "It's no matter! In the nursery I am grandmamma, and you shall call me so."
  • "You see, the dear Lord is a good Father to us all! He always knows what is good for us, if we do not know it."
  • "Rushing into the corner and into the grandmother's lap, she seized her arm and her hands and snuggled up to her, and was unable to say anything more from delight."
  • "What a blessing you have brought me!" exclaimed the grandmother, when the rolls did not come to an end, but one kept following another. "But the greatest blessing is you yourself, child!"
  • "Now a red glow fell over the grass at her feet; she turned round; there—she had forgotten the splendor, and never had seen it in her dreams like this—the rocky peaks on Falknis flamed up to the sky, the broad snow field was all aglow, and rosy clouds were drifting high above. The grass all round on the Alm was golden; from all the heights it glimmered and gleamed down, and below, the far-reaching valley swam in a golden vapor. When Heidi stood in the midst of all this glory, bright tears of joy and rapture ran down her cheeks, and she had to fold her hands, and, looking up to heaven, thank the dear Lord aloud that He had brought her back home again."

General Impressions

What an interesting and ultimately happy section this was! I really enjoyed getting to meet Klara's grandmamma. I love that she was so welcoming and encouraging to Heidi, making her feel like she could be herself while also nudging her to learn and grow in her reading, faith, etc. I also love that Heidi finds joy in reading—while we still see that books and stories aren't a substitute for the real relationships and life Heidi craves.

Then there's the whole "haunted" bit, which was rather comical! It's funny how everyone was affected by the thought of a ghost...except for the little "ghost" herself. :)

I'm glad the doctor was able to diagnose Heidi's true ailment and help bring about her journey home. And it was very sweet the way Klara wanted to give to Heidi.

It's a little surprising that Sebastian was so quick to entrust Heidi's care to a stranger, but I guess "all's well that ends well," so at least she made it up the mountain safely. And what touching scenes when she returns to the grandmother and Peter and her grandfather! I love her reunion with the grandmother, how full of love and joy it is, and I love how her grandfather was still his gruff self but obviously happy to have his Heidi back, the same humble and playful girl in essence as she'd been. Hugging the goats, resting peacefully in her cozy hay bed—such sweet scenes!

I'm really glad Heidi is back with those she loves. Now it will be interesting to see how life might change on the mountain and if there will be any mention of or reunion with the people she'd come to know in Frankfurt.

I love the descriptions of alpenglow in this book!
Here's a post I wrote about an alpenglow experience in Montana.


Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post.

1. What struck you most from the grandmamma's (Frau Sesemann's) interactions with Heidi?

2. Do you think Heidi could have learned to thrive in the Sesemann house over time, or do you think she truly needed to go back to the Alm in order to be healthy and happy again?

3. What was your favorite part about Heidi's return home?


Join us next Friday for our third discussion! 
(Part 1: Chapter 14 and Part 2: Chapters 1-4)

*Johanna Spyri, Heidi, trans. Helen B. Dole (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1945), 118-119, 131, 162, 163, 165.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Discussion 1 ~ Heidi Read-Along


Welcome to the first discussion of the Heidi read-along! If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can view the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we'll be discussing chapters 1-8. If you've already read these chapters, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below or in your own post. (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Heidi read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up on the reading, you're welcome to check in when you're ready. :) We're happy to have you join us whenever you can!

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Heidi: Chapters 1-8

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes*
  • "The sun does it. When he says good night to the mountains, he sends to them his most beautiful rays so that they may not forget him until he comes back again in the morning."
  • "More attractive than all else to Heidi on such windy days was the roaring and rushing in the three old fir trees behind the hut. Wherever she happened to be, she had to run to them every little while, for nothing was so fascinating and wonderful as this deep, mysterious sound up in the treetops."
  • "After many long years a joy had come into the blind grandmother's dreary life, and her days were no more long and dark; for now she always had something pleasant to look forward to."
  • "Sebastian was standing outside the door and had to stop laughing before he could enter the room again. While he was serving Heidi, he had noticed a little cat's head peeping out of her pocket, and when it began to meow he could hardly contain himself long enough to set his tray on the table." 

General Impressions

I think I'm finding this story to be so much sweeter and more engaging than I might have expected! Heidi's character is adorable and difficult to resist, almost with an Anne of Green Gables quality to her given a description like this: "Heidi was never unhappy, for she always found something about her to enjoy" (page 42 in my copy). She finds so much pleasure in nature and the goats and discovering new things and watching her grandfather work and in simple conversations with an older woman. Even when she ends up in completely foreign-to-her situations, she is quite resilient and brave and quick to find something to delight in.

It's surprising how young she is in these chapters. It's hard to imagine a five-year-old climbing up a mountainside! But her innocence is so sweet.

I love how her grandfather is quick to take to her and praise her, and how he watches out for her even while letting her play and grow in independence.

I'm a little uncertain still about Peter. I like him, but he also has a selfish streak (which, given his youth and circumstances, isn't surprising!). Still, I enjoyed seeing his friendship with Heidi and her grandfather bloom.

I love Peter's grandmother and the way she revels in Heidi's visits and defends her grandfather. It's so, so sad when Heidi is forced to leave... Ugh, Aunt Dete! Driven by guilt and duty, I suppose, but if only she actually loved Heidi. I hate that she gives Heidi away, then takes her away again when she sees fit, basically deceiving the poor little girl. :(

As for Heidi's new situation as companion to Klara, I'm torn. I'm glad Heidi has new friends like Klara and Sebastian. Sebastian is pretty awesome, haha! I loved when he paid the boy from the street to play his organ for the girls and cause a scene. And the way he takes care of the kittens and saves Heidi's hat from being thrown away—yep, I like him! But I'm also sad for Heidi, being so young and feeling homesick and trapped.

I'm curious to see where the next chapters take Heidi...

A snowy illustration seems fitting for this season!


Discussion Questions

Answer any or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post.

1. Which character ended up surprising you most in these first eight chapters?

2. Do you think you would enjoy living the way Heidi's grandfather does? What would you like or dislike about that kind of life and home?

3. Which scene have you found most touching so far? Most amusing?


Join us next Friday for our second discussion! 
(Chapters 9-13)

*Johanna Spyri, Heidi, trans. Helen B. Dole (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1945), 40, 42, 55, 94-95.

Friday, December 27, 2019

New Year, New Read-Along: Let's Read and Discuss Heidi Together!



Just a few more days until the start of 2020! Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!

If you're looking for a classic to read/re-read to kick off the new year, or if you simply want to discuss an old favorite with friends, I'd love to have you join the Heidi read-along. :)

Here are the details...
  • The read-along will start Wednesday, January 1, and end Friday, January 31.
  • We'll read 1 chapter per weekday for a total of 23 chapters. (You can use the weekends to catch up or get ahead if you'd like!)  
  • Discussions will take place here on Fridays (January 10, 17, 24, 31) for a total of 4 discussions.
  • I'll provide ideas and questions, and you can take part through commenting on the discussion posts here or creating your own blog posts!
Here are some examples of past read-alongs I've hosted: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense & Sensibility, The Silver Chair, Emily of New Moon, Christy.

I want to say this will be my first time reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri...and I'm looking forward to finally enjoying the beautiful copy featured in the read-along button above. It was a Christmas gift given to me in 1998 by a very sweet lady from my grandparents' church, and she wrote a kind note inside letting me know that the book was once a prize from a spelling contest in 1955, and she hoped I would enjoy the story like she did. ♥

Do you have a long-cherished copy of the book or special memories from reading it as a child? Please do share in the comments section—and let me know if you'll be participating in the read-along too! (Feel free to use the image in this post and share it on your blog or social media if you'd like to announce your participation!)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Gift of Books: Ordered, In the Stocking, and Under the Tree

Hello again, friends! It is probably no surprise that I get excited about books. ;) So, like an eager little child, I just wanted to share about these ones I got for Christmas this year!


My aunt and uncle kindly sent Josh and me a gift card, and we really enjoyed picking out books to buy—one for him, one for me, and a children's book to add to our collection for our little girl on the way. :) Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes was my pick! I've posted about one of her novellas before. She's a great author, and I've heard wonderful things about this book. Between the author and the reviews and the Maine setting and the gorgeous cover, this one seemed like the right choice!


Josh and I have fun stuffing stockings for each other, picking out little gifts and treats—and you can see my sweet stash from Josh in the picture! I confess I "helped" him pick out the book. ;) And after seeing Rissi's review, I was especially excited to receive My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff. Should be fun! (And I also can't wait to enjoy those candies!)


The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch was a gift from my parents, one that I had on my list. Not that I haven't read it before...it was actually the book that introduced me to Lena's delightful work! But I had first read it as an ebook, and now that Lena has updated the cover (so beautiful, right??) and added an epilogue (so sweet!), I loved the thought of finally adding it to my shelf. Yay!


Another gift from my parents! Entertaining with Disney by Amy Croushorn caught my eye online, and I had so much fun looking through it yesterday. While I'm not sure when or if I'd be able to actually host a party like the kind this book presents, I'd love to try some of the recipes (cupcakes, cookies, gumbo...lots of neat options)—and the pages are really beautiful for viewing and dreaming!

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What about you? I'd love to hear about any new books you got for Christmas or ones you're excited to borrow/buy/read in 2020! 

Literary Christmas: More Festive Reads


A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com

Hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas yesterday! Today I wanted to catch up on posting for the Literary Christmas challenge (hosted by In the Bookcase). This month I re-read a couple books, which were both on my list for the challenge, and I also read a book that—while not specifically Christmas-y—takes place mostly in December and the holiday season. :)

A Cliché Christmas by Nicole Deese

Learn more about the book on Amazon.

I believe the first time I read this was in Kindle ebook format, so it was neat to be able to read and enjoy the print copy from my shelf this time around! This is a great romance with plenty of bantering, misunderstanding, engaging scenes, and a sweet amount of depth. It's a case of the heroine falling in love once again with an old flame and her old hometown, but with new hopes and an expanded heart. I'm glad to have this on my shelf and think I'd like to revisit it again some future holiday season. 

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The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks by Cindy Vincent

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

It was great fun to revisit this story simply as a reader (whereas the first time around I was viewing it as an editor)! The characters are so cute, and the book is full of Christmas heart and cheer. One of the cats learns all about Christmas for the first time, and it's so sweet to see the season afresh through his eyes. I finished re-reading this the night of Christmas Eve, which was a great way to end the day, as the book's conclusion is full of love and generosity. :)

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Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate

Learn more about the book on the author's website.

This book has been on my shelf for a bit, and this month I picked it up to give it a try. It's definitely fitting to read in December, as most of the book takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas (although it continues on into spring). It's not a fast or terribly exciting read, but I'm heading into a similar season of life as the one the heroine experiences (with her first child), and I found the characters' dilemmas and life lessons and interactions compelling. The Christmas elements add a sweet touch, from community events to the family's preparations and celebration. I don't necessarily feel a huge urge to read the rest of the series, but overall I enjoyed this one, and perhaps I'll want to read it again sometime.

(You can see the series order HERE. Tending Roses is book 1.)