0232 | Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren

Context: Got this for my niece for Christmas… when, unusually, I got a stocking from the mother-in-law.

This is one of the few books on the list which a 7 year old could read. In fact, it may be the only one. I didn’t think I’d ever read a copy of it. I don’t have kids and, although I do buy books for my sister’s children, I’d never seen a copy of this anywhere. The other day though, I was online and saw a copy of this trilogy. I was able to read it before giving it to my niece.

The edition I had comprised of three books in one actually: Pippi Longstocking, Pippi in the South Seas and Pippi Goes Abroad. Not sure whether the 1001 list is referring to all the stories or the first book only so I read them all anyway.

Pippi’s a little girl who lives by herself with her father away somewhere among the cannibals in the South Pacific. The cannibals are, through all three books, painted as overfriendly primitives who seem entirely happy to submit to the first white person to show up on their island. Guess Pippi is as much a product of her time as most children’s writing.

Pippi’s take on the world must have been pretty radical in the late 40s when the stories first appeared. She’s subject to absolutely no adult authority and is even blatantly rude to some characters committing those heinous crimes of being sarcastic and facetious (grandparents would hate it). She tries school but it doesn’t suit her, she tries social occasions but refuses to abide by any social conventions and she constantly sees the world through different lenses. Sometimes these insights are ingenious, but mostly they’re just silly which kids would like.

I think the book would appeal to younger children now than it did when it was written and that some of her ‘adventures’ would seem to be a bit tame now. It will be interesting to find out what my niece makes of it.

At the end of a little Swedish town lay an old, overgrown orchard.

Finally it disappeared altogether.

rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb

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  1. Wow Arukiyomi, thank you for having a look at Pippi. I LOVE good children’s books and you have made me want to watch out for this trilogy in my travels. When I was a kid, I just loved watching the Pippi Longstocking show on TV. When i was a kid, her and Paddington Bear WERE MY LIFE.
    So, thank you — your “okay” will probably be my “excellent”.

    1. Hi Cip… great to hear from you again. Happy New Year to you too. I’d never heard of Pippi until I got the new edition of the list. Funnily enough, I’m now reading a book by Stieg Larsson who was Swedish and Pippi is mentioned… funny how these things seem to come one after the other. Anyway… hope you enjoy it when you get it.

  2. Commenting to an old post but anyway…

    I haven’t read the later two books, but my impression was that Pippi stories use somewhat similar device as some other Lindgren books like Brothers Lionheart and especially Mio My Mio, extremely unreliable narrator…and things like friendly cannibals in South Pacific should not be taken at face value. “Why don’t you have a father?” “I do, but he’s a king of cannibals in South Pacific and that’s why I live alone, I visited him just last summer…”

    I have noticed children’s books tend to have quite strange role in cultures, there are books which everyone within said culture knows and can reference in adult books trusting people get the reference, but the same books can be virtually unknown outside that culture (there are several American children’s books I have come to know only through references in other books, for example anything by Dr Seuss…for quite a while I was puzzled about what this “Green Eggs and Ham” thing is).
    Lindgren is pretty much the equivalent of Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss rolled into one, and really great writer (partly because she does put all kinds of weird undercurrents in her stories, so that at one reading you might get fun adventures and other reading of the same book can come off as an abandoned child making up a fantasy world.

    1. thanks for the comment… no problem in commenting on an old post. If someone searches for the book, they’ll probably see the review and then read your helpful comment! Thanks for taking the time to share…

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