The setting is Turin after the unification of Italy, between 1878 (coronation of King Umberto I) and 1886 (publication of the book). The author wanted to teach young people civic virtues, that is, love of their country, respect for authority and for parents, the spirit of sacrifice, heroism, charity, piety, obedience and endurance of hardships, well represented in the words:
"Coraggio dunque, piccolo soldato dell'immenso esercito. I tuoi libri son le tue armi, la tua classe è la tua squadra, il campo di battaglia è la terra intera, e la vittoria è la civiltà umana. Non essere un soldato codardo, Enrico mio. - TUO PADRE
[English Translation:]"Come on then, little soldier of the immense army. Your books are your weapons, your class is your team, the battlefield is the whole earth, and victory is human civilization. Do not be a cowardly soldier, my Henry. - YOUR FATHER
Among the various film adaptations, there were the movies of 1948, directed by Duilio Coletti, starring Vittorio De Sica, and 1973, directed by Romano Scavolini, and the popular television series Cuore (1984), produced by Rai, directed by Luigi Comencini, starring Johnny Dorelli as the teacher "Maestro Perboni".
The book was a great success also because the children in the tales came from different parts of Italy, and some of them have acquired a reputation of their own, as "Dagli Appennini alle Ande" the story of Marco who embarks from Genoa to Buenos Aires to find his mother, who emigrated to Argentina and of whom nothing more was known. The tale was the basis for several films and two animated series produced in Japan: Marco (Haha wo Tazunete Sanzen Ri, 1976), (Haha wo Tazunete Sanzen Ri, 1976) in English 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, anime series in 52 episodes.