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Pippi. Her combination of supreme silliness and breezy bravery is irresistible.

And the names this author uses for characters and places! Villa Villekulla? Longstocking? So good and funny.

Pippi’s a mess. Her clothes don’t match. She lives by herself. She does whatever she wants, however she wants. This is satisfying especially for kids I think. She’s a lot of fun and her own person, with a good heart who “enjoys talking to people.”

She does exactly all the kinds of wild things that kids think of doing. Cooking pancakes and flinging them across the kitchen onto plates? Extreme, not holding back kinds of actions — these can be what fiction is for!

And her strength!

“Why, she could lift a whole horse if she wanted to! And she wanted to.”

(And she has a horse!)

Her attitude! “Don’t you worry about me. I’ll always come out on top.”

Life next door to Pippi and as her friend, is definitely not boring — her neighbors, the other children Annika & Tommy and their tidy, orderly life are perfect foils for Pippi’s outrageousness. And vice versa. Pippi’s father is an absent (but romantic) Cannibal King, while the other two children’s parents are present, ordinary and typically adult.

Some of the cultural references in this story could be misunderstood nowadays as being politically incorrect or insensitive — but instead I think one should keep in mind it’s all supposed to be ridiculous — and the fact that other cultures or ethnicities are even mentioned actually ups the diversity score for this book.

Imaginative, goofy things are not supposed to make sense in one way; even as there must be a core element of truth in all good stories. Pippi saying things like, “people in Egypt talk nonsense all day long” (so I should be able to occasionally) need to be taken as tongue-in-cheek, (and enjoyed). She also completely knows she’s lying/making stuff up and says so. Probably while stomping down the street backwards, one foot in the gutter and one on the sidewalk.

Such gleeful nonsense. It’s awesome.

I’ll leave you with the observation that Pippi’s methods for cleaning appeal to something deep within all of us. Strapping cleaning brushes to your feet and flooding the house with water and suds? “Excellent!” We all say, “That would be a splendid/dope method for washing your kitchen floors! ”

 

(c) 1945 by Astrid Lindgren

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