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The Swiss Family Robinson

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  91,877 ratings  ·  2,183 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 28th 2006 by Sterling (first published 1812)
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Amber Not really. I started reading this because I thought it was an old classic, up there with Treasure Island category, plus I loved the Disney movie. I'm…moreNot really. I started reading this because I thought it was an old classic, up there with Treasure Island category, plus I loved the Disney movie. I'm having a hard time getting through it. The movie is way better. The book is so old fashioned. The Dad and the boys are out hunting and killing literally everything in sight including bears, kangaroos, gorillas, and platypus. They are killing animals to stuff as "curiosities". They kill ALL the monkeys because they trashed one of their huts. It's totally not politically correct according to today's thinking. Besides the fact that I don't what island they are on that has all the animals of Africa, Australia, and North America, all in one place. Meanwhile "the Mother" as they refer to her, is doing the domestic thing. I thought there would be more about the building of the tree house and finding creative solutions, like the movie, but there isn't that much. Lots more killing instead, which isn't my bag. They don't even live principally in a tree house, they move to a cave. The Dad knows everything about anything, plants, animals, manufacturing processes, so it's so unbelievable. I'll finish it, but if I'd known it would suck, I wouldn't have bothered. Treasure Island was awesome compared to this. (less)
Rick It is purely fiction. I read that Wyss wrote the book as an educational piece for his children.

Community Reviews

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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  91,877 ratings  ·  2,183 reviews

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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
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nov 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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, ...more
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 ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club, fiction
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 ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
*****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
Drayton Alan
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
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
Renee M
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it
"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 ...more
Dan JK
Jun 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 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
Brandy Painter
Nov 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: childrens, classic
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 ...more
Joceline Foley
Jul 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
"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
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
Aug 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Good times for everyone.
mark monday
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-loves
Family: It Does a Body Good.

Family: The Other White Meat?

Family: It's What's for Dinner!
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
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.
Book Concierge
Digital audiobook read by Frederick Davidson.

Originally published in 1812, this is a classic adventure tale of a mother, father and four sons who are shipwrecked on an unnamed (and apparently uncharted) tropical island in the South Seas.

I had never read the book, though I had seen the Disney movie back in the ‘60s. My adult self recognizes the glaringly implausible (and, frankly, impossible) scenarios – penguins AND bears AND ostriches! – but the adventure still captures the imagination. I als
Rachel Terry
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: juvie, classics
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


Apes I Have Destroyed

Master's Thesis:

A History of the Magnificent Inventions of One Swiss
Feb 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jillian Neyhart
Nov 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
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.
Kellyn Roth
Oct 05, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: re-read-someday
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.
Brittany (brittanymariereads) E.
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
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Play Book Tag: The Swiss Family Robinson / Johann David Wyss - 3*** 4 14 May 08, 2019 03:07PM  

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From Christian Classics Library

Wyss is best remembered for his book The Swiss Family Robinson . A pastor with four sons, it is said that he was inspired by Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to write a story from which his own children would learn, as the father in the story taught important lessons to his children.

The Swiss Family Robinson was first published in 1812 and translated into English two years
“It was one of those happy days that God grants us sometimes on earth to give us an idea of the bliss of heaven.” 11 likes
“The monkeys seized all the cocoanuts within their reach and sent them down upon us” 8 likes
More quotes…