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Introducing Pippi Longstocking to a New Generation of Kids

June 22, 2012

By Karen Ruben

Part of our role here at CLiF is to spread the joy and wonder of reading a really good book. Today’s post is a reminder of a somewhat forgotten gem.

A couple of weeks ago my five-year-old daughter, who now dresses herself and, incidentally, looks pretty funky, was walking along the sidewalk to the park with one foot in the gutter and one on the sidewalk. “Hey!” I called, “That reminds me of a book you would like!”

Later that day we were headed to the library for a copy of Pippi Longstocking. We read a chapter a night, some of them twice because we loved them so much. We just finished the first book, and my girls, ages 4 and 5, are in love with Pippi!

The funny thing about Pippi Longstocking is that it was written in 1945, a time so different from our own, in Sweden, a country far, far away. And yet it resonates still. Pippi’s antics thrilled my daughters. They told everyone who would listen about their favorite parts and laughed endlessly about Pippi giving herself a spanking and putting herself to bed.

I have had to memorize Pippi’s full name because they ask me so frequently to repeat it. (It is, by the way, Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking.) They love all the silly and ridiculous things Pippi does but are also impressed by her fantastical strength and bravery. At our house she is a super hero of sorts.

If you recall, Pippi is a little girl who lives with her horse and monkey in a house WITH NO GROWN UPS!! Normally, this is a situation that my girls would find a bit scary, but as soon as they realized that Pippi’s super-human strength, big bag of gold, and fearless, can-do spirit make everything possible, they began to really enjoy the idea of a child making all of the decisions for herself.

And Pippi makes some really funny decisions, like turning her hot chocolate over on her head and sleeping with her feet on the pillow and her head under the covers. She stays up till all hours of the night practicing a dance called the schottische. At the circus she refuses to be left out of the fun and jumps into the acts whenever possible. The best part, I suspect, is that she drives grown ups batty and always gets the best of them. She is good-naturedly impudent in a way my girls can only dream of being.

Tomorrow we are headed out to get the next book in the series, Pippi Goes on Board. For us this will be “the summer of Pippi Longstocking.”  If you know and love Pippi or have another classic character we should explore, please let us know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

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