Book Review – Astrid the Unstoppable, and Heidi
Today we get to talk about the best readaloud I read in 2019, and how it pairs really well with the classic children’s book, Heidi.
Astrid the Unstoppable, by Maria Parr is the story of a feisty, adventurous girl, who loves to ski and sledge, but is the only child in her small village. Astrid embodies her nickname “the little thunderbolt” and this book is full of her hair-raising escapades.
The stories within the book are like modern Astrid Lindgren tales, and it is easy to imagine how much fun Astrid would have had alongside Lindgren’s Pippi, Emil, or the children from the Noisy Village. Instead, she find a connection with another fiction character – Heidi.
One of the things I really love about both of Maria Parr’s books, is that the adults in them have lives that we only see through the eyes of her child protagonists. In Astrid the Unstoppable, her best friend (and surrogate grandfather, Gunnvald) goes through real emotional turmoil as heartache from the past resurfaces, but as the reader, we only see what Astrid sees as she slowly tries to understand what is going on, in amongst her own priorities and adventures. This gives a greater sense of community and cross generational connection than many equally adventurous children’s books. In trying to understand why her friend is acting so strangely, she decides to read the copy of Heidi that Gunnvald has suddenly begun reading, and that book has a real thematic impact on the overall story.
As the person reading aloud I was able to give my children an overview of what Heidi was about, and by the end of the book it was obvious that it should be our next read-aloud.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri was first published in 1881 and is the classic tale of an orphan sent to live in the Swiss mountains with her gruff grandfather. Heidi’s wonder at the world around her, and her innate desire for things to be good for everyone, changes the people who come into contact with her.
Both Heidi and Astrid the Unstoppable are thoroughly enjoyable books, whose stories and themes intertwine in really interesting ways. This lead to really engaging conversations within our family and a lasting fondness for both books.
They are the prefect pair read during the last of the winter and while awaiting the coming of spring.