Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (adapted from the German)

genre: middle grade adventure
This is the actual copy I read

When Father and Mother boarded a ship in Europe with their four sons, they anticipated a new life in a new colony - what they got was even more adventurous.  Under the strain of stormy weather, they are run aground and abandoned by the crew, left alone to fend for themselves on an unknown and deserted island.  Father's expert survival knowledge and the ingenuity and hard work of each family member lead the them to an incredibly successful life in their new home.

I decided to read this book when my 94 year old grandpa told me it was his most favorite book as a boy - he told me he read it repeatedly throughout his youth.  It was fun for me to keep him in mind as I read.  I'm incredibly familiar with the Disney Film, it was a favorite of mine as a kid (I wonder how much influence my love of that movie had over my love of survival stories even now?) so I couldn't help comparing the two somewhat.

They are quite different :).

The comparison made it fun, though, and I have to say that overall I really enjoyed it (read in essentially one sitting).  It is definitely a story seeped in religious vigor and moral instruction, it feels very pedantic at times and it's clear that the author wanted to teach young boys about the virtues of hard work and honesty, as well as resourcefulness and outdoor skills, in an exciting setting.    Of course, there are random animals from every conceivable continent on this island, as well as every resource you could ever possibly need to make anything under the sun - but that's what makes survival stories interesting.  Surely this was an influential work, especially for my own grandpa :)

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