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The Swiss Family Robinson

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The Robinsons leave their home in Switzerland planning to settle half a world away. But things do not turn out as they had expected. The sole survivors of a terrible shipwreck, they wash ashore to learn that the danger has only begun. Their new world will test their courage, cleverness, endurance, and faith as they struggle to survive and create a civilization of their own The Robinsons leave their home in Switzerland planning to settle half a world away. But things do not turn out as they had expected. The sole survivors of a terrible shipwreck, they wash ashore to learn that the danger has only begun. Their new world will test their courage, cleverness, endurance, and faith as they struggle to survive and create a civilization of their own in the wilderness. Note: This Townsend Library classic has been carefully edited to be more accessible to today's students. It includes a brief author's biography and an afterword that provides important context about the work.


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The Robinsons leave their home in Switzerland planning to settle half a world away. But things do not turn out as they had expected. The sole survivors of a terrible shipwreck, they wash ashore to learn that the danger has only begun. Their new world will test their courage, cleverness, endurance, and faith as they struggle to survive and create a civilization of their own The Robinsons leave their home in Switzerland planning to settle half a world away. But things do not turn out as they had expected. The sole survivors of a terrible shipwreck, they wash ashore to learn that the danger has only begun. Their new world will test their courage, cleverness, endurance, and faith as they struggle to survive and create a civilization of their own in the wilderness. Note: This Townsend Library classic has been carefully edited to be more accessible to today's students. It includes a brief author's biography and an afterword that provides important context about the work.

30 review for The Swiss Family Robinson

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    I have such fond memories of this from seeing the old movie version as a kid. I never got around to reading it then, so I thought I'd give it a go! The family togetherness and sense of adventure is all there. It's just lacking musical accompaniment and sound effects. It is an old 'un so the writing felt a bit stiff, or perhaps it's the translation's fault. It read more like James Fenimore Cooper than say a Jane Austen. I guess my real quibble is the lack of tension here. Yes, certainly there is d I have such fond memories of this from seeing the old movie version as a kid. I never got around to reading it then, so I thought I'd give it a go! The family togetherness and sense of adventure is all there. It's just lacking musical accompaniment and sound effects. It is an old 'un so the writing felt a bit stiff, or perhaps it's the translation's fault. It read more like James Fenimore Cooper than say a Jane Austen. I guess my real quibble is the lack of tension here. Yes, certainly there is danger inherent in being stranded, especially upon an island that could house unknown beasts. But I never had the impression they were ever in any real trouble. Good old dad seemed to have things under control the entire time. Also, I felt more than a passing need to suspend disbelief at some of the family's goings on. For castaways they sure were well supplied from that shipwreck! The seemingly infinite supply of dry gunpowder was a stroke of luck, that's for sure. The Swiss Family Robinson is a family adventure story and as such should probably be read as a family when the kids are young. I don't think it's meant for us old, knitpicky grumps.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    they kill or enslave everything in sight, whether they need it or not. they pray before they do anything. i'm pretty sure the matriarch of the family was never actually named, but merely called "the mother" or "my wife" any time she was relevant, which was not very often. near the end of the book, the family actually shoots a cachalot. they don't use it for anything, but instead axe the head open and take away buckets of spermaceti. a whole fucking sperm whale had to die just because they saw it they kill or enslave everything in sight, whether they need it or not. they pray before they do anything. i'm pretty sure the matriarch of the family was never actually named, but merely called "the mother" or "my wife" any time she was relevant, which was not very often. near the end of the book, the family actually shoots a cachalot. they don't use it for anything, but instead axe the head open and take away buckets of spermaceti. a whole fucking sperm whale had to die just because they saw it, killed it, and as an afterthought figured they could use the head innards presumably for candle-making. fucking... book. it was overly moralizing and offensive in so many bits, yet i found myself bringing it up in conversation with people. frustrating, but i suppose quite memorable. i had the same problem with white fang and the call of the wild, actually. also, how lucky were they? at every regular meal, they were eating better than i am able to and knew every last thing about where they were stranded, except for exactly where they were. makes sense. speaking of where they were, where were they? i thought that maybe they were somewhere like new zealand when they started shooting penguins, but that didn't make sense and the closest i've come to figuring it out has been that they were probably in an archipelago off portugal, but i don't know. maybe they were in a different dimension where people talk about providence all the time and suck majorly. except for the gay one. he was all right.

  3. 3 out of 5

    Sara

    When I first started this book, I found it rather comical at how many reviewers were appalled by all the animals that were killed, (mostly for food, some for safety, albeit, some for sport or rather teenage childishness). And I thought to myself, not having read the book yet "Where do these readers think their chicken nuggets and hamburgers come from? Trees?" After having read the book, I will confess, there were a lot of dead animals. But if one really takes the time to imagine what it would be When I first started this book, I found it rather comical at how many reviewers were appalled by all the animals that were killed, (mostly for food, some for safety, albeit, some for sport or rather teenage childishness). And I thought to myself, not having read the book yet "Where do these readers think their chicken nuggets and hamburgers come from? Trees?" After having read the book, I will confess, there were a lot of dead animals. But if one really takes the time to imagine what it would be like stranded somewhere with no other source of food, and having with you 4 teenage boys, I should think that each of us would take every opportunity to secure for us and ours that which would preserve our lives. But I digress. Father Robinson may be the original MacGyver! He's amazing and entirely brilliant! If I knew merely a tenth of what he possesses within his brain, I should be happy all the days of my life. But more than that, I think his role is that of a Christ archetype. He is ever patient and teaching and wants to see his children succeed and helps them along the way. He works with them in everything. He never sits back and says "Go figure it out on your own, I'm too busy." He is the example of how each of us as parents SHOULD be towards our children, and anyone else we have a stewardship over. He is ever praising and very respectful of his wife and they work together as men and women should work together; as equals and yet entirely unique. Oh the lessons that could be learned in our society today if we took this example to heart. The book is full of the value of hard work, teamwork, compassion, affection and creativity.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Duane

    I liked the story well enough. If I had read a decent translation I might have given it 4 stars. It's a great concept, being stranded on a beautiful tropical island. Their perception over 200 years ago would be quite different than ours today. Some things that bothered me were the stereotyping regarding race and religion, and the senseless killing of the wildlife they came across. But it's an adventure story and it's entertaining from that aspect. It left me wanting to know what happened later, I liked the story well enough. If I had read a decent translation I might have given it 4 stars. It's a great concept, being stranded on a beautiful tropical island. Their perception over 200 years ago would be quite different than ours today. Some things that bothered me were the stereotyping regarding race and religion, and the senseless killing of the wildlife they came across. But it's an adventure story and it's entertaining from that aspect. It left me wanting to know what happened later, his afterword only accounted for 2 years. I understand Jules Verne wrote a sequel to Wyss' classic. I may have to see how that goes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have great memories of Dad reading this to us as kids, it was so hoplessly archaic and ridiculous that his rendition quickly became sarcastic. We all ended up in fits of laughter each time they found ANOTHER useful thing washed up on the beach/growing on the magic island, and/or shot ANOTHER hapless animal/person/moving object that crossed their path.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marty Reeder

    Wow. What a relief to have that out of the way ... I have been painstakingly pushing my way through this book for a while now. Having said that, I always thought that The Swiss Family Robinson was just the type of story that I would like. Going into it, my expectations were high and I think my enthusiasm barreled me past the first few chapters without so much as a literary bump. But just like trying to race up Everest, you lose steam after the first hundred yard sprint and the rest is pure drudg Wow. What a relief to have that out of the way ... I have been painstakingly pushing my way through this book for a while now. Having said that, I always thought that The Swiss Family Robinson was just the type of story that I would like. Going into it, my expectations were high and I think my enthusiasm barreled me past the first few chapters without so much as a literary bump. But just like trying to race up Everest, you lose steam after the first hundred yard sprint and the rest is pure drudgery. The unfortunate thing is that there was no sense of satisfaction upon finishing The Swiss Family Robinson as there would be in peaking Everest, only relief. Here is the problem as I see it, and I will use the narrator's own words towards the end of the novel to explain it: "It is needless for me to continue what would exhaust the patience of the most long-suffering, by repeating monotonous narratives of exploring parties and hunting expeditions, wearisome descriptions of awkward inventions and clumsy machines, with an endless record of discoveries, more fit for the pages of an encyclopedia than a book of family history." Wow. Couldn't have said it better myself, Mr. Robinson--though your realization of those things was about two-hundred and fifty pages too late. While I can't say it better, I will sum it up: nothing happens. Oh, sure, they keep building these paradisaical, tropical mansions, lacking only in electronics and internet because those things haven't been invented yet, but what--exactly--is happening? Nothing. The biggest conflicts they have are brought up one paragraph and resolved in the next. And then there are the characters. I originally loved the idea of a family being the protagonist, instead of just some single, adult male like in most stories. But I think Wyss could have put more personality into a single, adult boulder than he did in this entire family. That's not to say that there aren't distinguishing personality traits. The chief one of the narrator is that he is annoying, smug, and wholly unbelievable. Every idea he tried, he immediately succeeded at accomplishing, even if the whole human race had been trying the same feat, unsuccessfully, for thousands of years with plenty more resources. Any animal or plant he saw, he immediately knew the scientific classification, background, and general usage for it as if reading out of the page of an encyclopedia (an interesting study would be to find the Swiss encyclopedias of the time and find out which ones Wyss plagiarized from, probably verbatim in most instances, in order to piece together Mr. Robinson's immaculate naturalist knowledge). Perhaps I am being harsh ... okay, yes, I am being harsh, especially for a book meant for children. But I think that even children have a right to expect simple things like PLOT or DEVELOPED CHARACTERS as part of their reading experience. However, I realize that the book is up against some pretty stiff prejudices of mine. You see, before reading this, I had also read The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. This one also has castaways on a destitute island who are able to create amazingly advanced machines, technology, and shelters with very limited resources (more limited than the Robinson family's, even). Yet, I did not balk at incredulity when Cyrus Harding moved from one advancement to another, or accessed astonishing amounts of information using his memory alone. The reason why? I believe it is because Verne actually knew what his characters were talking about. Rather than slapping something from an encyclopedia entry and passing off haphazard hypotheses, Verne had actually thought these things through, understood the implications and context of each thing, and put forward a fascinating, but credible solution. Besides The Mysterious Island, I had also seen the Disney movie, The Swiss Family Robinson. Such a great, great movie--one of my all time favorite, in fact. How did it attain that status? It made realistic characters that you could believe in and distinguish, one from another. It truly made the family the protagonist. It cared about the characters first, and the cool treehouse secondary (although, you have to admit, the treehouse in that movie is AMAZING). And finally, there was a plot! The characters were constantly working with an underlying conflict, and it culminated in a worthy climax. In short, the movie fixed everything that was wrong with the book ... and they excelled at the few things the book got right (such as the treehouse, the appearance of another character later on in the story, and the references to pirates). Going into the reading with these expectations, it is little wonder that Johann Wyss is getting the brunt of my frustrations here, but in reality the book is harmless. Long, boring, and redundant ... but harmless. It is a great idea, some unique settings, and some simple fun. It is just a matter of sifting through all of the drudgery to get them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    carrie

    *****SPOILER ALERT ***** I've read it now, and it does not measure up to the Disney movie. It was so ridiculous! The boys shoot every animal they see, which range from inhabitants of the African savannah, Australia, and the American northwest -- yes, hippos, rhinos, lions, tigers, kangaroos, bears, elephants, the duck-billed platypus, you name it, they're on the island. The father knows absolutely everything about every plant and animal, and sums up every situation correctly before it happens. He *****SPOILER ALERT ***** I've read it now, and it does not measure up to the Disney movie. It was so ridiculous! The boys shoot every animal they see, which range from inhabitants of the African savannah, Australia, and the American northwest -- yes, hippos, rhinos, lions, tigers, kangaroos, bears, elephants, the duck-billed platypus, you name it, they're on the island. The father knows absolutely everything about every plant and animal, and sums up every situation correctly before it happens. He recognizes plants like flax and wax bushes. For a deserted island, it's interesting that there is absolutely everything that they could possibly need and that the father who has never lived in the West Indies recognizes it all at a glance. Oh -- also, their European trees (that happened to be on the ship) grow just fine in the blazing tropical sun. There is no conflict (because the father knows his way out of any trouble), and the only story is "we went here, shot this animal, made this hut, etc." The characters all speak the same (even the little boy talks just like his dad and uses the same adult phrases and big words). The last chapter was the most interesting. I could see a young boy (who doesn't mind old-fashioned language) who's into hunting and survival liking this book but that's about it, so I'll keep it just in case Ethan falls into that category. There is no hot girl for the boys to fight over either! I read at the end that the author thought of the story to give his sons survival ideas, and I don't think that's so bad, but if you're going to set a novel in the West Indies, and you know so much about flora and fauna, you could try to make the flora and fauna of the island authentic. There -- I'm done venting, and very glad to be done with the book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Stop right now! Before you read this book, I must warn you! The back of the book is a LIE! All of that "they must rely on their wits, the strength that comes from family ties, and the bounty of nature to survive" is all a crock of baloney. Complete fabrication. They're stranded with enough supplies to start a small colony. Guns & timber from the shipwreck I could understand, but butter, livestock, tools, *blacksmith* tools, fishing hooks, needle, thread, extra clothes, enough seeds to start Stop right now! Before you read this book, I must warn you! The back of the book is a LIE! All of that "they must rely on their wits, the strength that comes from family ties, and the bounty of nature to survive" is all a crock of baloney. Complete fabrication. They're stranded with enough supplies to start a small colony. Guns & timber from the shipwreck I could understand, but butter, livestock, tools, *blacksmith* tools, fishing hooks, needle, thread, extra clothes, enough seeds to start a garden if not a farm, and a complete working boat with a CANNON!?! Not to mention an island so hospitable it has salt for preserving, cotton, flax, rubber, and an overabundance of game. It would be more surprising, if they all died. Not to mention, that every chapter reads like a how-to-book. I can almost hear the conversation with the publisher. Publisher: Johann, no one wants to read this how-to-manual. It's boring. And there are dozens more just like it. It's needs something extra, a hook, some zing. Johann: But this is useful! Publisher: I know, put it on a desert island! Forced to rely on their wits alone! They'll have to do everything with the bounty of nature. No modern tools! Johann: No! How can I do that? Publisher: They'll love it! Go on. Johann: Fine. Ten days later Publisher: What is this? Johann: You said put it on a desert island. They're on a desert island. Publisher: But you gave them everything! Where's the hardship? Where's the people starving? Where's the adventure? Johann: This is adventure! It's hard work to start a village! They work hard in almost every chapter, plus I added games and parables for the little children. Publisher: Fine, fine, but I can't guarantee that anyone will buy it. Seriously, if you want a cute story about people starting a colony on a desert island (with all the necessary tools) go for it. Personally, I think it reads like a how-to-manual, but if you like that, then this book is for you. I'm not saying it's poorly written, or that it's not a cute little story, but it's not the adventure it's made out to be. Hell it doesn't even have much of a plot. So if you're looking for an island adventure book, find a different one.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Jill

    I've read this a couple times to the boys. As a mom of boys, I loved it. It is fun to read of the ingenious solutions for survival, and I love their constant reliance on and gratitude to God. And Eric says: I love the many passages of the book that go something like this...After my wife and children had expressed their ideas, I explained the folly of their reasoning and they rejoiced in my knowledge and wisdom. Dream on ER.

  10. 4 out of 5

    kingshearte

    The enchanting story of a shipwrecked family - a minister, his wife, and four sons, Fritz, Ernest, Francis, and Jack - who are cast up on a desert island, build a wonderful house in a tree, and survive so cleverly and happily apart from the world that they never want to be rescued. And from the inside back cover: The author of The Swiss Family Robinson was actually a number of people. Originally, Swiss Army chaplain Johann David Wyss (1743-1818) wrote an adventure story modeled after Daniel Defoe The enchanting story of a shipwrecked family - a minister, his wife, and four sons, Fritz, Ernest, Francis, and Jack - who are cast up on a desert island, build a wonderful house in a tree, and survive so cleverly and happily apart from the world that they never want to be rescued. And from the inside back cover: The author of The Swiss Family Robinson was actually a number of people. Originally, Swiss Army chaplain Johann David Wyss (1743-1818) wrote an adventure story modeled after Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to amuse his four sons, who, one imagines, found their counterparts in age and character in their father's book. One of these sons, Johann Rudolf (1781-1830), edited and published his father's manuscript in 1812-1813. A French translation by Mme. la Baronne Isabelle de Montolieu appeared very shortly thereafter, and it contained some new adventures. The first and further embroidered English translation soon followed, and several years later Mme. de Montolieu published a still longer version. Other writers, editors, and translators continued to add and subtract material, and the book continued to appear in various guises until, in 1889, WHG Kingston's shorter version was published and soon became the English standard. But even the Kingston version contains the zoologically improbable profusion of animals for which the book is noted - penguins, ostriches, kangaroos, jackals, and so on - not to mention terrain of amazing diversity and every variety of plant the castaways could ever want. And all this one one undiscovered and uninhabited, though fairly large, tropical island. Certainly The Swiss Family Robinson is one of the most beloved adventure-discovery books of all time, but one should not be tempted to use it as a survival manual, for disappointment would surely follow! So, I included that blurb from inside the back cover largely because I personally find the last sentence in it kind of hilarious, but certainly not inaccurate. I think I'd have to say that this may be one of the most ridiculous books I've ever read, and not in a good way. There are so many things wrong with it I barely know where to start. But let's see. Let's start with the extremely stilted writing style. Now, knowing what I now do about how many people have had their hands on this book, it's entirely possible that Wyss's original writing was so eloquent one could weep, and the suck that's left is simply a result of being translated back and forth by way too many people. But whatever the cause, it's basically terrible. Consider the following, a piece of dialogue between the narrator and his wife: "It seems absolutely necessary, my dear wife, to return at once to the wreck while it is yet calm, that we may save the poor animals left there, and bring on shore many articles of infinite value to us, which, if we do not now recover, we may finally lose entirely." WTF is that? Who talks like that? Nobody bloody well talks like that, but that kind of ridiculous writing is all the way through the book. Gah. Oh, and as for "my dear wife," this poor woman has a name (Elizabeth), which we learn on page 67, and never hear again. In the entire book, Elizabeth is referred to by name exactly twice. The rest of the time she's "my wife," which is tolerable, or, more frequently, "the mother." That's right. "The mother." Not just "mother," or "their mother," in reference to the boys, but "the mother." Like she's not really a person who matters; she's just there to be useful and serve her "motherly" function. That drove me absolutely nuts. Then there's the profusion of "zoologically improbable" animals, which is a severe understatement, and also only the tip of the absurd convenience iceberg. This island seriously has to be the most awesome place to be shipwrecked ever, because it really does contain absolutely everything you could possibly ever want to survive and build anything you can conceive of. I'm half surprised they didn't find some sort of silica deposits that they could use to construct themselves computers. If it had been written later, I bet it would have. And if finding a particular object on the island was too absurd even for the author(s) to conceive of, the family could just get it off the wreck of the actual ship, which was conveniently wrecked, largely intact, on a rock very close to the island, where they could travel regularly to strip it of all kinds of "articles of infinite value." I honestly can't even convey the depth of the absurdity of the things that they just happened to find on this island, so that they never had to do without anything. Seriously, they lived in such luxury, it barely qualifies as shipwreck, if you ask me. It bugs me, too (and don't even ask why this particular thing bugs me so much), that, for example, after they've been on the island for several years, they suddenly find evidence of elephants around one of the establishments. Um, no. It's almost conceivable that, in exploring to a part of the island where they've never been before, they might find traces of an animal they haven't previously encountered or seen any signs of, but in a place they frequent regularly, and have for several years? Not likely. Animals are creatures of habit, and if you don't see them around a particular spot within a year, chances are, they won't show up there ever. Unless, of course, you've screwed up the ecosystem of this island so badly that you alter animals' usual patterns. Which is entirely conceivable. Why, I ask you, does a family of six need half a dozen homes on this island? I understand having two, because winter and summer have different shelter requirements, and sometimes it's just easier to construct two different shelters than to try and make one serve dual purpose. But another one here, and another one in this other place we've discovered, and another on over there, etc? Why? I get that sometimes you might want to go to spot X to avail yourself of resource Y that is found in that area, and that sometimes you may need to stay there for a few days while you're gathering the stuff or whatever. But dude. Bring a tent. You don't need a whole other abode, whose main purpose seems to be something for you to build to occupy your time, and to take umbrage when the local monkeys show up and wreak havoc in it. Which is precisely what precipitated two of the most disturbing episodes in this book. In both cases, they show up at one of their settlements that they rarely use anyway, to find that the monkeys have made a mess. And instead of thinking, "Gee, maybe we've expanded enough," they decide to set traps and kill all the monkeys that show up next time. And not to eat, or skin, or do anything useful with. No no, once the monkeys are dead, they just bury them. I found both instances appallingly unnecessary savagery. Further evidence of their excessively expansionist tendencies is that every time they discover a new animal, they simply must either kill as many of them as possible (Seriously? Your stores aren't adequate? Based on the killing related in the book, they could survive years without killing anything else), or capture at least one and relocate it to one of their homes. Why? These animals were living perfectly contentedly where they were, and now that you know where that is, if you need them, you can come get them. Why uproot them. I especially loved how, when they discovered a pack of ostriches and decided to capture one of them (to be tamed and ridden, btw), did they go for one of the females? Nope. They went after the one male in the group. Great. Way to destroy the ostriches' chance of continued survival, losers. It's all presented in such a happy-go-lucky way, but all I could think while reading this book was how incredibly wantonly they were just destroying the natural resources and populations on this island. What else is new when humans show up, though, I guess. I could go on, but let me just touch briefly upon the absurdity of the last line in the back cover blurb. They don't ever want to be rescued? Really? The four boys are perfectly content with the options of either celibacy or incest? Sure they are. Good thing Miss Montrose showed up when she did, really. I also love how these parents, unlike pretty much every parent in the time period, and most parents even nowadays, don't seem remotely concerned about the fact that by staying on this island, their boys won't be able to get married or have children of their own. I'm imagining what would happen if they didn't end up getting rescued, with everyone dying until Franz, the youngest, was finally left all by himself on this island. Nice fate you're wishing on your children, parents. This lack of concern was particularly evident when they did find other people, and "the mother" was asked if she would like to go or stay, and she declared that she'd like to stay, as long as at least two of the boys stayed too. WTF? It's a little less screwed up after they go on to talk about how they'd like to bring in more people, and actually form something of a colony (the better to completely destroy the island, I guess), but still. Shouldn't most mothers be a little more anxious for their boys to get the hell off this deserted island so they can meet some nice girls and get married? Weird people, these. And you know what? Much of this could be forgiven if the story were interesting or compelling. But it's not. Aside from the initial shipwreck, absolutely nothing happens to these people that could be classified as anything more than a trivial inconvenience. There's no real drama or suspense, and that rendered the whole thing just incredibly dull. And that is what's really unforgivable about this book. And one final note, this one directed at the cover illustrator. When dogs are described in a book as being mastiffs, maybe you don't draw what is clearly a golden retriever on the cover.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Drayton Alan

    Its fascinating to read these reviews and see how many people judge a story of this time period by the values of the 21st century. I doubt any of the people who have written these reviews have ever missed a meal let alone faced the dangers of survival in a wilderness. The story was written to fire the minds and hearts of children of the day. It taught them about the things that were important to their future and their families. Try to remember that a child reading this book in Europe may have Its fascinating to read these reviews and see how many people judge a story of this time period by the values of the 21st century. I doubt any of the people who have written these reviews have ever missed a meal let alone faced the dangers of survival in a wilderness. The story was written to fire the minds and hearts of children of the day. It taught them about the things that were important to their future and their families. Try to remember that a child reading this book in Europe may have grown up and found in this story a motivation for seeking a better life in the new worlds of America, Australia or the Pacific islands. These children grew up to be the settlers of the Old West and of wild places that we now take for granted as tamed. They were parents of the cowboys and farmers that built the nations of today. The use of animals to survive was consistent with the views of the day. If you read this book with an appreciation for the time and culture of when it was written you will learn and understand the people of that time better.

  12. 3 out of 5

    The Book Queen

    I had no idea this one had so many negative reviews... oh well, it appears I am once again in the minority, although funnily enough now I'm apparently the only one who loves this, while everyone else hates it. Never mind, someone has to hold down the fort. This has always been my favourite classic; I read this first when I was about ten and I've re-read it occasionally ever since. I think this may be my fourth or fifth time re-reading it. It's great. This is how you write a story about a shipwreck I had no idea this one had so many negative reviews... oh well, it appears I am once again in the minority, although funnily enough now I'm apparently the only one who loves this, while everyone else hates it. Never mind, someone has to hold down the fort. This has always been my favourite classic; I read this first when I was about ten and I've re-read it occasionally ever since. I think this may be my fourth or fifth time re-reading it. It's great. This is how you write a story about a shipwreck on a desert island without being incredibly boring, HINT HINT MR. LOUIS STEVENSON.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kay

    ★★☆☆ Torture to get through to the end. Talk about Fantasy Island. And they, or their dogs, killed everything they came across. Ugh. Enjoyed the movie more. (Did I just say that?) New Switzerland Per Wiki:But the novel differs in that it is modeled on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, a genuine adventure story, and presents a geographically impossible array of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants (including the bamboos, cassavas, cinnamon trees, coconut palm trees, fir trees, flax, Myrica cerifera, rice, r ★★½☆☆ Torture to get through to the end. Talk about Fantasy Island. And they, or their dogs, killed everything they came across. Ugh. Enjoyed the movie more. (Did I just say that?) New Switzerland Per Wiki:But the novel differs in that it is modeled on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, a genuine adventure story, and presents a geographically impossible array of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants (including the bamboos, cassavas, cinnamon trees, coconut palm trees, fir trees, flax, Myrica cerifera, rice, rubber plant potatoes, sago palms, and an entirely fictitious kind of sugarcane) that probably could never have existed together on a single island for the children's edification, nourishment, clothing and convenience. Still, this is what I got: Sago Palms onager subspecies (Equus hemionus kulan, the Turkmenian kulan) Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Tree Crab (Caribbean hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus) Blue Penguin AKA Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) or Fairy Penguin

  14. 3 out of 5

    Renee M

    "Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, the novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. Wyss' attitude toward education is in line with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many of the episodes have to do with Christian-oriented moral lessons such as frugality, husbandry, acceptance, cooperation, etc. The adventures are presented as a series of lessons in natura "Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, the novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. Wyss' attitude toward education is in line with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many of the episodes have to do with Christian-oriented moral lessons such as frugality, husbandry, acceptance, cooperation, etc. The adventures are presented as a series of lessons in natural history and the physical sciences, and resemble other, similar educational books for children in this period... But the novel differs in that it is modeled on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, a genuine adventure story, and presents a geographically impossible array of [flora and fauna] that probably could never have existed together on a single island for the children's edification, nourishment, clothing and convenience." From Wikipedia. This explains a great deal about the novel. In this context, the reader can appreciate the clever way Wyss has melded formats to present his lessons to his sons. It's not great literature, but one can easily imagine his four boys hanging on these tales of hunting, foraging, and invention.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan JK

    This book was almost mildly entertaining until it became disgustingly unbearable. In truth I only listened to half of the book. I decided to listen to it based on fond memories of the tv show from when I was a child, but It was honestly a complete waste of 4 hours of my life... even though I was working... The writing of this book is completely lost to the ages and changes in societal beliefs Enter this father that seems to know every little thing about surviving in the wilderness, so much so that This book was almost mildly entertaining until it became disgustingly unbearable. In truth I only listened to half of the book. I decided to listen to it based on fond memories of the tv show from when I was a child, but It was honestly a complete waste of 4 hours of my life... even though I was working... The writing of this book is completely lost to the ages and changes in societal beliefs Enter this father that seems to know every little thing about surviving in the wilderness, so much so that even though they knew they had a crate full of medical supplies he didn't even need to open it until 2ish years after they landed because he knew how to extract medicines from plants.(and keep in mind he has like 3 young boys) This douche narrates a story that is almost more like a wilderness survival guide than a story, except for its lack of any pertinent information on how to actually survive a similar situation. This douche is seemingly the only man in the world that 'god' cares for because every time a situation appears that would pose a massive challenge he simply prays and it magically appears (ie bees hollowing out the exact tree they had decided to use as a tree house from the bottom to the top so that he could simply build a spiral staircase on the inside (good thing that among studying with a surgeon, learning about natural medicines (in this exact climate), learning how natives turned random nuts into bowls and learning how to tan leather, he also studied as a carpenter and a ship builder (fuck)) And amazingly having all these skills going into this situation, this douche still sits there preaching about 'god', as if his douche life of learning completely random skills didn't luckily douche out and douche him into douchery. But I douchegress, Don't waste your time on this book. it will only leave you wanting for a sweeter time in your life, a time when fairies still danced upon the morning dew. A time when thunder sounded like a brave lions roar. A time when geese flew in perfect V's and not strange Tilde (~) shapes. A time long before you decided to open this book of rank douchery.

  16. 3 out of 5

    Jama

    This is a book for kids, and my boys really like it a lot. Many of the negative reviews posted about this book are totally correct. The Swiss Family is a product of its time. They treat the island like their playground, killing and domesticating everything in sight. They mention god a lot. They never name the mother, and she stays in the background cooking and mending things while the father and boys go out adventuring, but in all fairness, none of the characters have real fleshed out personali This is a book for kids, and my boys really like it a lot. Many of the negative reviews posted about this book are totally correct. The Swiss Family is a product of its time. They treat the island like their playground, killing and domesticating everything in sight. They mention god a lot. They never name the mother, and she stays in the background cooking and mending things while the father and boys go out adventuring, but in all fairness, none of the characters have real fleshed out personalities. Besides the fact that one boy is more scared than others, one is young and often left out, and one is slightly lazy, they are all basically the same blank slate into which the child reader can insert themself and imagine surviving in the bountious plentiful island where death and disease do not exist (human death, that is.) When I read this to my kids ( this is my second time, right now I'm reading to the 7 and 10 year old), we talk about the characters' dated historical attitudes. We mock the unrealistic success of every project they tackle. We laugh at the preposterous confluence of animals and plants from every continent on earth. Yet they really get something out if the story. If it was up to me, I would stop reading it in a heart beat, but I read it for them. And at least the version we have uses great vocabulary and wording I am happy to expose them to. My sons would rate this 5 stars. I would rate this 2. I could never read this on my own. But reading it to them ups it a star.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Kipahni

    "oh fritz," said I to my young companion " What do you suppose that yellow feathered creature flying yonder is?" Bang, boom fritz shot the animal (as well as a number of it's companions and a few european black squirrels that were just innocently watching) and where it fell to the ground we examined it. " Why father! It is the Magestic Big Bird of the Seseame Street that I have read about. It is known in that part of the Neighborhood that children will congregate around it as it sings learning son "oh fritz," said I to my young companion " What do you suppose that yellow feathered creature flying yonder is?" Bang, boom fritz shot the animal (as well as a number of it's companions and a few european black squirrels that were just innocently watching) and where it fell to the ground we examined it. " Why father! It is the Magestic Big Bird of the Seseame Street that I have read about. It is known in that part of the Neighborhood that children will congregate around it as it sings learning songs about the alphebet and numbers. We should catch one give it to mother to domesticate and then when it dies add it to our collection!" cried my smartest son Ernest and so on and so forth.... blah blah blah. If you enjoyed those previous three paragraphs then you will LOVE The family robinson, where the father is not only the Patriarch of the family, but a botinist, tanner, carpenter, engineer, farmer, hearder and whatever else you can think of. It seems like EVERY creature, or oddity they came upon the father would say something like " How fortunate that for a season in my life I was a jockey!" or something equally obsurd. and then the smart son would say " Yes I read a book that they use the urine of this certain animal as an aphordisiac" okay well they don't say those EXACT things but close. Anyway the moral I walked away with was that Well read people and well rounded students will fair well (with Providences provision) on a deserted Island.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brandy Painter

    Wasted potential are the words that most aptly describe this book. A family is shipwrecked and must survive on an island with only each other for support. It should have been a great adventure story. Instead the reader is treated to page after page of monotony. Even the scenes that should have sparked interest were dull and completely lifeless. The characters are obnoxiously perfect. The father knows everything there is to know about everything and accomplishes herculean tasks (like bridge build Wasted potential are the words that most aptly describe this book. A family is shipwrecked and must survive on an island with only each other for support. It should have been a great adventure story. Instead the reader is treated to page after page of monotony. Even the scenes that should have sparked interest were dull and completely lifeless. The characters are obnoxiously perfect. The father knows everything there is to know about everything and accomplishes herculean tasks (like bridge building) in one day. The mother is amazingly well versed in the art of outdoor cooking and whips up a homecooked meal the first night they are on the island. The children never complain and are always eager to have more work put on their shoulders. And where on this planet can you find tigers, lions, bears, kangaroos, boa constricters, and a herd of buffalo residing all on the same island? It is completely unbelievable and not in a fun adventure story kind of way. I would recommend reading something else.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    DNF 20% Decided to edit my review. I tried to get through it but the lack of any serious conflict was disappointing. I understand this was written to teach children about survival, but that is all it seems to be. A book about teaching children about survival. I understand this was originally written in another language and in a another time, and I had no problem with that. I also had no problem with the fact it was a rather wholesome and perfect view of life, but was hard to swallow was the lack o DNF 20% Decided to edit my review. I tried to get through it but the lack of any serious conflict was disappointing. I understand this was written to teach children about survival, but that is all it seems to be. A book about teaching children about survival. I understand this was originally written in another language and in a another time, and I had no problem with that. I also had no problem with the fact it was a rather wholesome and perfect view of life, but was hard to swallow was the lack of reality, the lack of what it would have truly been like to be shipwrecked. At least it seemed it to me...having never been in that position I would think it would have been far more difficult then what it was for this family. After numerous attempts to get through it I decided to put it away for now. Maybe I will go back to it another time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    Family: It Does a Body Good. Family: The Other White Meat? Family: It's What's for Dinner!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Terry

    Now I understand why there are so many abridged editions of this book. It is repetitive and tedious and is held by such a tenuous thread of a plot that you barely care what's going to happen next. I have come up with some other titles for this book, just in case marketers would like to advertise from a different angle: How To: 101 Ways to Skin a Mammal How to Use Deserted Islands to Make Men of Your Boys Memoir: Apes I Have Destroyed Master's Thesis: A History of the Magnificent Inventions of One Swiss Now I understand why there are so many abridged editions of this book. It is repetitive and tedious and is held by such a tenuous thread of a plot that you barely care what's going to happen next. I have come up with some other titles for this book, just in case marketers would like to advertise from a different angle: How To: 101 Ways to Skin a Mammal How to Use Deserted Islands to Make Men of Your Boys Memoir: Apes I Have Destroyed Master's Thesis: A History of the Magnificent Inventions of One Swiss Gentlemen and their Applications to Civilized Life on an Island, Once Wild, But Now Tamed by the Influence of Cultivated Europeans and Copious Amounts of Gunpowder The kids and I read this one together, and although there were a few complaints ("Do we have to keep reading this? They're so mean. They just kill everything."), it was a good chance to talk about cultural differences. It was good to point out that in the early 19th century, while many areas of the world were being colonized, trophy hunting and calling people "savages" were not frowned upon. Also, people didn't frown on the outward practice of religion. There are some very religious sentiments in this book, which I found refreshing. Then it was nice to show the contrasts to our day. We don't call people savages or kill animals so we can attach their heads to the fronts of our canoes, but people are much more suspicious of religion. Now we're going to watch the Disney movie. I suspect that it will be less gory since it's Rated G.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Alex

    I think my favorite part was when they murdered 40 apes. No, wait. It was probably when they pumped that dead kangaroo full of air so its skin would peal away from its muscle. Actually, it was probably when they cut off that walrus head so they could attach it to the front of their kayak. Ya. Good times for everyone.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Christie

    I absolutely loved this book, and have read it again and again. I also read it to my family and we all had goosebumps during the passage about the large snake eating the donkey.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Unfortunately, the charm of this book was completely overshadowed by it's out of dated-ness for me. As an avid animal lover, this is probably one of the worst and most frustrating books I have ever read. I was looking forward to it as classic literature, but I'm afraid it's simply past it's time. Literally every single page some kind of animal was shot and killed, sometimes cruelly and usually unnecessarily. Also, the attitude towards animals showed profound ignorance both for their ability to b Unfortunately, the charm of this book was completely overshadowed by it's out of dated-ness for me. As an avid animal lover, this is probably one of the worst and most frustrating books I have ever read. I was looking forward to it as classic literature, but I'm afraid it's simply past it's time. Literally every single page some kind of animal was shot and killed, sometimes cruelly and usually unnecessarily. Also, the attitude towards animals showed profound ignorance both for their ability to be "tamed" and their natural behaviors. I understand that animals were a source of food that was necessary to their survival, but the attitude and frequency with which the author wrote about it was offensive to me. At first I was able to keep perspective on why he was writing in that fashion, but when they had planted and farmed and preserved enough food for a lifetime and kept shooting every new species they encountered I just got sick of it. Every once in a while the narrator states that he has no wish to cause a creature unnecessary suffering, but then he essentially creates an enormous glue trap for a band of monkeys so they become entangled and imprisoned, and sets his dogs on them! A "tortoise" is found swimming in the sea amidst one of their boats, so of course they harpoon it, and it tries to swim to land for safety?? I'm pretty sure the "island" they landed on was the "island" of Africa! Lions, buffalo, onagers, penguins, jackals, ostriches, antelope, bears.... they all can't live on a small island together, that's for sure. Oh, and of course all snakes are evil. The list of ridiculous statements goes on and on and on. Too much for me to enjoy this book. Also, I'm certainly not used to everything going RIGHT when people get shipwrecked. They just HAPPENED to find every food, substance, and habitat that they needed. It just made the story more ridiculous.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joceline Foley

    I feel a tiny bit terrible giving a classic novel only one star, but this book is a tiny bit terrible itself, so I think it all evens out. This book lacks two integral elements of a novel: plot and characters. All six members of the family are apparently robots who exist only to shoot animals unnecessarily, do everything perfectly the first time, and speak like a bunch of old-fashioned Christian computers. Also, Mr. Robinson (did he have a first name? I never caught one) berates his children for I feel a tiny bit terrible giving a classic novel only one star, but this book is a tiny bit terrible itself, so I think it all evens out. This book lacks two integral elements of a novel: plot and characters. All six members of the family are apparently robots who exist only to shoot animals unnecessarily, do everything perfectly the first time, and speak like a bunch of old-fashioned Christian computers. Also, Mr. Robinson (did he have a first name? I never caught one) berates his children for the tiniest infractions and acts as though they're going to hell as a result. However, when they shoot flamingos without even seeing what they're looking at or hit a whole bunch of penguins with an oar, his only response is basically, "Eh, you probably shouldn't do that, but since you did...oh well." Somehow, Mr. Robinson knows about every single plant and animal and its possible uses in a place he's never been before. Somehow, every risky venture goes perfectly the first time, including using dynamite to blow a hole in the side of a damaged ship. Somehow, every useful item on the ship isn't damaged and is brought to shore without a hitch. Somehow, European fruit trees flourish outside of their native climate. Somehow, not one family member ever says, "Oh shit. We're stuck on this island forever." They seem to accept their fate without a second thought. Somehow, I managed to make it through 280 pages of a horrible book.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Dree

    Misogynistic drivel. Father knows all. About everything. Animals, plants, trees; how to build, cook, grow, and make things he remembers reading about in some book some time ago. Mother cooks, and cleans, and is incredibly strong and clever for someone who needs so much protection. Boys are clever and kill everything in sight. When I was a kid my brother had a beautiful illustrated edition of this book. (I had Pinocchio.) I read mine, and I wanted to read his books soooo badly. These editions were Misogynistic drivel. Father knows all. About everything. Animals, plants, trees; how to build, cook, grow, and make things he remembers reading about in some book some time ago. Mother cooks, and cleans, and is incredibly strong and clever for someone who needs so much protection. Boys are clever and kill everything in sight. When I was a kid my brother had a beautiful illustrated edition of this book. (I had Pinocchio.) I read mine, and I wanted to read his books soooo badly. These editions were beautiful, full color, thick paper. And he would not let me. And my parents backed him up, it was his book. I was willing to let him read Pinocchio. He didn't want to. He didn't read his volume either. It just sat there, making me angry. I loved the Little House books, I so wanted to read this beautiful book about the stranded family! Why didn't my mother just tell me it was drivel?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Neyhart

    I could not finish this book. It's horribly written, and the movie was much better. I rarely put a book down, but I just didn't have it in me to continue.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kellyn Roth

    I'll have to give this another try someday. I just ... I got sick of the Most Convenient Ship Wreck with Occasional Life Lessons from Father.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brittany (brittanymariereads)

    The best way that I can describe this book is to compare it to a children's roller coaster. There are a few highs then never quite reach the potential of what they could be but mostly it is just flat with soft turns here and there. The Swiss Family Robinson was about a family who was involved in shipwreck that led to them being on a deserted island. The book tells of their efforts to make the island home. They are faced with very few hardships or struggles. It was almost a how to guide for livin The best way that I can describe this book is to compare it to a children's roller coaster. There are a few highs then never quite reach the potential of what they could be but mostly it is just flat with soft turns here and there. The Swiss Family Robinson was about a family who was involved in shipwreck that led to them being on a deserted island. The book tells of their efforts to make the island home. They are faced with very few hardships or struggles. It was almost a how to guide for living on a island but with strong religious themes. I was not impressed. I am seriously starting to question who came up with the criteria for defining a classic. Just because something has been around for a long time doesn't mean that it is good.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Jack Wang

    It was awsome like a family of Robinson Crusoes shipwrecked and living on an unknown Island But wait there is more they might not be they only human inhabidance on the island. are they friendly are hostile read and find out!

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