Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking
Astrid Lindgren
Viking, 1950  160 pgs.
Grades 3-5
Humor

A beloved children's classic, Pippi has charmed and entertained readers for over fifty years.  Enter a small town in Sweden in the ramshackle house called Villa Villakulla.  There resides a larger than life girl named Pippi, who lives alone with her monkey named Mr. Nilsson and a horse on the porch.  Pippi is not by any means an ordinary girl.  She has super-strength and is utterly fearless.  Because of a lack of book learning, Pippi isn't the best reader or mathematician and her manners are atrocious, but that never slows her down from jumping into life with both feet.  Neighbors Tommy and Annika befriend Pippi and she turns their lives upside down.  Whether its making cookies on the floor or having a tea party in a tree, Pippi always makes the most ordinary tasks interesting.  Even the circus gets livened up when Pippi rides around the ring standing up on a horse and walking the tightrope.  She stands up to bullies, outwits robbers, and saves small children from burning buildings.  Best of all, she has three other adventures that follow after the first book is finished.

Pippi is one of my favorite characters in all of children's literature.  She has the naivete and humor of Amelia Bedilia, but with super hero strength in a pint-sized body.  She is fierce and fearless and always tries to be kind, especially to the helpless.  Children will enjoy seeing the world through Pippi's eyes as they read her adventures: the independence and freedom of living alone, not having to go to school, never getting pushed around, having as much money as you will ever need, having a pet monkey and a horse living on the porch, and always finding adventure.  Its a child's best fantasy.  Tommy and Annika serve as Pippi's "straight guys" and we meet and experience Pippi's antics right along with them.  Best of all, the book is very funny.  I remember hanging on every word of this book when my fourth grade teacher read it aloud to the class in 1976.  Reading it now, I still fell into it and found it hilariously funny.  It made me feel like a child again.  I read this book with my Reader's Rock book club for third and fourth graders this month and they also loved it, so this is a book that has stood the test of time.  Pippi has been made into several movies and a TV series, but nothing recently.  I think the time has come for Pippi to be made into a major motion picture, although I will probably be disappointed in it.  Lindgren's book is very special and Pippi is so real in my mind that no movie could do it justice.  A great read aloud for parents to share with their children or for both boys and girls to read on their own, this book will be enjoyed by all.  Full-page illustrations accompany the text. A new over-sized version was released in 2007 with fresh illustrations by Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame) that breathe new life into this beloved classic.

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