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The Swiss Family Robinson (Puffin Classics) Paperback – March 5, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5-- It goes without saying that, in the process of condensing and rewriting these books down to a fourth-grade reading level, most of the distinguished aspects of the works--writing style, language, atmosphere, characterization--have been sacrificed for a simple, not to say simplistic, master-plots approach that conveys the incidents but fails to impart the justification for their continuing endurance in the canon of juvenile literature. The books are illustrated with some attention paid to the sense of the plots and characters. For those who persist in the fallacy that knowing what the so-called "classics" of children's literature are about is a satisfactory substitution for actually experiencing them by reading the original, this series is acceptable. For the rest of us, it's as if someone's painted a guppy white and called it Moby Dick. --Christine Behrmann, New York Public Library
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This new series of Illustrated Chosen Classics is a collection of the world's most famous stories, especially retold for children. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This isn't your childhood Swiss family. Godwin's 1816 translation has rarely been in print until recently - most versions floating around are some variation of Isabelle de Montolieu's 1824 French adaptation (William H. G. Kingston's 1879 English translation of Montolieu's French adaption is probably the most common). In Montolieu/Kingston's version, the original ~400 page that Wyss wrote has been abridged to about 150 pages, with an additional 150 pages or so of new material added to the end (with an entirely different ending, new characters, etc). So if you've read Swiss family as a child, and are looking for an "unabridged" version, you may find Godwin's 1816 translation missing a lot of material - simply because Wyss never wrote it in the first place.
What version to read? I would say Montolieu/Kingston's version (and others) are more "kid friendly" mainly because the Godwin translation is from 1816 and as such uses some language that is dated and has passages that would probably be boring or not make sense without historical context. So in a way there is no "right" version since most readers for the past 150 years have not been reading the "original" anyway. I would probably recommend the Montolieu/Kingston version for juvenile readers and the Godwin version for adults - or even better, read all of Godwin plus the second half of Montolieu/Kingston which is all new material, the first half just being an abridged version of Godwin.
In the end I enjoyed the novel for what it is - a great adventure and inspiring family story. Many classic stories are challenging and interesting but not always "fun" - this one is just a great story and fun to read. It's even more fun knowing there are is a whole world of alternative versions available, with more adventures and different endings, but I'm glad to have read the original as it was written by Wyss (and his sons).
As a spoiler, of course, the likelihood of encountering the wide variety of animals at on location and the quick domestication of such is more of the "fantasy island" approach. I hate it growing up. LOL.
This time around it was interesting to see the faith of the parents, their prayer lives; and of course, their constant thankfulness for everyday blessings--like surviving another day. I thought it refreshing to see resourceful individuals solve problems and adapt; but then remember to be thankful. It may seem harsh to some to read of the destruction of some of the "local" predators or animals that cause havoc to crops, etc; but when in "survival" mode, you do what you have to do to help ensure your continued life and those of your family.
Easy read, still allows you to use your imagination, but lacks the character development of our more modern books.