Book Review: Pippi Longstockings by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking is a classic children’s books written in 1944. There are two sequals which I haven’t read. The novel was origonally written in Swedish, but I read an English translation. The movies have elements of the books, but create a story arch that isn’t in the book.

The novels follows a nine year old girl, Pippi, as she moves into her home at Villa Villekulla after her father was lost at sea. She is red-hair, super-naturally strong, and has a tendence to tell tall tales about her life at sea. She makes friends with the neighbor kids, Tommy and Annika and has lots of wacky adventures with her horse and mokey.

The book doesn’t really have an overarching plot. Instead, it is more like a collection of short stories that happens it chronological order. Each chapter is a single adventure with its own problem and conclusion. The adventures are not overly fantastic (things like going to school or the circus), but Pippi’s interaction with these relatable situations are over-the-top extraordinary.

The stories are silly and fun without any moral lessons. In fact, Pippi is not really a good role model at all. She is reckless, rude, and a liar. Yet, she is also loyal, generous, and sensitive. What I like about the books is actually the complexity of the main characters. Pippi is not flat and allows the reader to wrestle with both the negative and possitive in one person. Pippi is also both clever and ignorant in many ways.

Pippi is very much like a Peter Pan style of character in the fact that she is unable to adapt to the adult world. She has creating an imaginary narrative and way of living that defies the convention of society. She is the personification of childhood unchecked by education, rules of behavior, or worries of danger. Unlike Peter Pan, she is continually interacting with adults and causing them unintentional fustration. Because of her supernatural strength and odd collection of abilities, she is able to take risks that would be life threatening to other children (such as head-butting a charging bull).

I do recommend this book for late elementary school children. For children who are on the autistic spectrum, it might be necessary to continually point out the fact that may of the thing Pippi does is not safe. Still, I think the majority of children will intuitively understand that Pippi is an imaginary character doing unnatural things. With that in mind, it is a fun book that can help children see why telling the truth and following rules of etquette make life better for them, but a little bit of whismy doesn’t hurt either!