In the Robinson Crusoe tradition, Johann David Wyss created a story of a Swiss family that was shipwrecked on a desert island. Much as Robinson Crusoe, the family must learn to use the land to meet their needs. As with Crusoe, there is a religious element of learning to thank God for their blessings, but unlike Robinson Crusoe, the version of Swiss Family Robinson that I read had a lecturing tone that didn’t take long to irritate me.
Swiss Family Robinson may fascinate children. The family learns and explores natural science, mechanics, engineering, astronomy, biology, mathematics, and so much more through their experiences in a new place. I loved learning about the house in the trees and I was fascinated to hear how they built everything themselves. Maybe young children could relate to the four boys’ adventures in learning.
The main theme of the Swiss family’s story of survival is paradise: unlike Robinson Crusoe, this family loved their new home from the beginning. They ultimately don’t want to be rescued: they preferred to remain isolated in their paradisiacal home. Wyss added an impressive (and impossible) array of animals to the little island, and everything the family needed for survival conveniently appeared, from “candleberry trees” to flax and cotton. It truly was a paradise.Continue Reading