Some unexpected Thanksgiving guests messed up my reading plans for the long weekend a little bit. But no matter; some of my books might have had to take a backseat, but there was still plenty of time for gratitude and reflection. Earlier this month, Dolce Bellezza wrote about Johanna Spyri’s Heidi. It was a beautiful post that gave me goosebumps, and I am thankful that it reminded me of the special edition I have of this book.
Actually, I have two editions of the book. One is the Puffin in Bloom edition, and the cover just makes me happy. I also like it because it refers to Heidi as “she.” The other is a special, abridged 1953 edition that I got from my grandmother, who thought the girl on the cover looked just like me. One might argue over that, but I love everything about this book except that the outdated German refers to Heidi as “it.”
In 1952, a movie version of Heidi came out in Germany, which was very successful. A year later, the supermarket chain Edeka published this particular edition of the book.
The book came with a foreword from the movie’s director and little greetings from some of the actors and actresses. It came with lots of whimsical illustrations. But most importantly, it came with blank spaces.
As a marketing ploy, the supermarket chain offered its store-brand products with numbered pictures that children could collect and glue into the book. The pictures are all stills from the movie.
My grandmother said that for months, she didn’t have to badger my father and aunt into drinking their milk. They were so eager to collect all the pictures that they were happy to consume whatever my grandmother put in front of them, just so that she would have to go back to the store and buy more products with pictures for the book. (Some of the pictures are missing, and I remember scolding my father for not drinking enough milk to collect them all when I received the book.)
My grandmother also told me that my grandfather would secretly re-glue the pictures, because he couldn’t stand it when my father glued them in crooked. That makes me smile, because my father would have done exactly the same thing, if I had glued the pictures in crooked.
It is hard to believe that this book is now over 60 years old. For a mere marketing piece, it has held up remarkably well. It doesn’t matter that some of the pictures are missing; the imperfection makes it perfect to me. It is a wonderful reminder of both my father and my grandmother. And I had a fun time looking through the book with the kids this Thanksgiving weekend. I got to tell them stories of their grandfather and great-grandparents, all of whom they have never met. I thought it was perfect family time, and thankfully, the kids didn’t disagree.