Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Revisiting the Beloved Children’s Books: Pippi Longstocking


Do you remember the thrill and wonder of reading about that delightfully quirky 9-year-old girl with superhuman strength named Pippi Longstocking? As a kid, I lived vicariously through her imaginative adventures, audacious exploits, and carefree spirit. So when the lockdowns hit and I found myself bored to tears, I decided to revisit my childhood heroine to see if her magical charm still worked its spell on me as an adult.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

You can find Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren on your favorite bookstore, including Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

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About author Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) is one of the most well-known and influential children’s book authors of the 20th century. As the creative genius behind the iconic Pippi Longstocking books as well as many other classic tales, Lindgren’s stories have delighted generations of young readers around the world while leaving an indelible mark on children’s literature.

Born in Näs, Sweden, Lindgren grew up surrounded by storytelling and developed a boundless imagination during her childhood spent largely alone while her parents worked on the family farm. After finishing school at age 18, she took on a series of clerical jobs while secretly writing stories and poems during her free time. Though rejected by publishers for years, Lindgren persevered and eventually published her first book in 1944 at age 37. The book, Britt-Marie lättar sitt hjärta (Britt-Marie Unburdens Her Heart) was a smash success. Just two years later, Lindgren achieved international fame when she introduced the outrageous, irrepressible character of Pippi Longstocking in a series of children’s books.

Lindgren went on to pen over 40 children’s titles selling a staggering 165 million books worldwide during her prolific decades-long career. While best loved for the nine Pippi Longstocking books, she also wrote beloved stories featuring characters like adventurous Emil i Lönneberga, playful Bill Bergson (Mästerdetektiven Blomkvist), curious Rasmus, and more. Her stories resonate with children across languages and cultures thanks to their oh-so-relatable themes of freedom, resistance to authority, imagination, friendship and morality.

Known for her humor, insight into child psychology, and commitment to peace and understanding, Lindgren and her progressive, ahead-of-their-time tales have influenced generations of kids to question assumptions and think for themselves. The brilliance of her stories lies in their ability to speak truth to children in eye-opening ways while still rejoicing in the wonder of childhood. Lindgren’s gently subversive works encouraged independence and freethinking and her legacy still empowers parents, educators, librarians and book lovers today to share stories rich in authenticity and imagination.

Though Lindgren continued writing until nearly her death at age 95, her spunky, flame-haired heroine Pippi still remains her most legendary creation. Universally recognizable thanks to TV and film adaptations, Pippi embodies resilience, inner confidence, and faith in both humanity’s goodness and one’s own self-worth. Decades since her debut, Pippi Longstocking adventures into millions of children’s bookshelves and toy chests worldwide, reminding readers both young and old about the beauty of recognizing our own vulnerabilities while bouncing back from life’s challenges with spirit and determination.

Overview of the Pippi Longstocking Book Series

The Pippi Longstocking book series was written by beloved Swedish author Astrid Lindgren and originally published in Swedish between 1945-1948. It consists of three original titles:

Pippi Longstocking

This 1945 work introduces us to the iconic character of Pippi, who lives alone in her wacky villa “Villa Villekulla” with a monkey named Mr. Nilsson and a horse named Alfonso. After her pirate father Ephraim Longstocking is lost at sea, the young orphan girl with braided red hair and mismatched stockings returns to the Swedish village she grew up in to await his return. With her suitcase of gold coins and lively imagination, Pippi turns everyday life upside down for her new neighbors Tommy and Annika.

Pippi Goes on Board

In this 1946 sequel, Pippi befriends a fatherless girl named Maria and invites her to come sailing on her father’s ship Hoptoad. Together with her friends Tommy and Annika, Pippi heads out to sea and onto a string of edgy escapades involving daring rescues, outwitting thieves, and discovering mysterious islands.

Pippi in the South Seas

Published in 1948, this final book sees Pippi receiving a message in a bottle from her father, who says he has been made king of a South Seas island inhabited by good-natured natives. Pippi sets sail with Tommy, Annika and Mr. Nilsson to rescue her father from the island’s evil men who have overthrown him. More rousing adventures ensue!

With over 70 translations printed in more than 40 languages, the Pippi Longstocking series has become one of the most popular children’s classics around the globe.

What Makes Pippi So Endearing?

So what exactly makes this quirky pigtailed girl tickle our funny bone and resonate so profoundly with children worldwide? Here’s my take on some of Pippi’s enduring charm and allure:

Her Refreshing Nonconformity

Unlike most well-behaved fictional children, Pippi gleefully shrugs off social conventions and flouts just about every rule in the book. She goes to bed when she wants, generously dishes out cookies for breakfast, and occasionally dances on the rooftops. We all secretly envy and relish her untamed freedom.

Her Bold Confidence and Resilience

Despite being a vulnerable orphan, Pippi exudes striking self-assurance untainted by insecurities. With a “I have never tried that before, so I think I definitely could do that” attitude, she confronts grownup bullies without blinking an eye, rides sharks at the beach, and lifts her horse one-handed. If she can face life’s harsh realities with such swagger, why can’t we?

Her Warm Compassion

For all her cocky bravado, Pippi harbors no shred of condescension or callousness. She treats everyone with sincere empathy and kindness – from her less audacious pals to the villainous robbers she cheerily foils. Pippi may dance to the beat of her own drum, but she has a heart of gold.

Her Thoroughly Unbridled Imagination

Pippi unleashes fantasy at full gallop, inventing stories so far-fetched that Tommy and Annika struggle to determine if she’s lying or telling the truth. By animating the everyday with infectious imaginative abandon, Pippi reminds us grownups not to take ourselves so seriously and find the fairytale in our humdrum lives.

Her Warmhearted Connection to Her Father

Orphan Pippi’s unwavering conviction that her seafaring father (the gloriously-named Captain Ephraim Longstocking) will return one day reveals a touching glimpse into the depth of love between father and daughter. Pippi may be odd but she is not emotionally detached. Her steadfast loyalty humanizes her character and melts our hearts.

Revisiting Pippi as an Adult Reader

So how did adult me enjoy revisiting these quirky children’s classics from my past? Beyond the endearing qualities above, here are some of my key reflections:

The Inimitable Illustrations

While the original books contained only a smattering of illustrations, the most popular English editions feature fantastically playful drawings by iconic Swedish book artist Louis S. Glanzman. Just as fanciful as Pippi herself, Glanzman’s sketch-style images vividly capture the anarchic energy and boundless personality bursting from every page.

The Enthralling Storytelling Voice

I had forgotten just how gripping Lindgren’s droll conversational style instantly pulls you into Pippi’s absurd yet wonderfully imaginative adventures. With amusing matter-of-factness, witty sarcasm and well-timed cliffhangers, Lindgren writes with skillful pacing that fully exploits our emotional investment in the characters. Like all good pageturners, her novels truly transport you into their world.

The Surprising Emotional Resonance

On the surface, Pippi’s madcap exploits paint a sunny, feel-good world brimming with harmless mischief and fun. Yet at its core, Lindgren touches on universally relatable themes that resonate more deeply as an adult reader – yearning for family, loyalty towards friends, the courage to be different, and learning that inner strength comes from within.

The Playful Subversiveness

With her subversive disregard for authority, predilection for tall tales and blunt challenges to social etiquette, Pippi embodies the inner maverick in all of us. We cheer her on as she pokes fun at the pompousness and arbitrary rules that constrain childhood. Pippi symbolizes the rebellious urge to question institutional norms and deflate self-important egos that threaten imagination.

So while kids may be drawn to Pippi’s outward kookiness, I’ve realized there are subtle depths to her nonconformity that reward adult readers too.

Why Everyone Should Read About Pippi Longstocking

Whether you first met her as a starry-eyed 8 year old or a world-weary 40-something, everyone deserves to make the quaintance of the one-and-only Pippi Longstocking.

Here are my top reasons you should grab these classics off the shelf:

She’s Hilariously Entertaining

With her oddball humor, odd habits, witty comebacks and a magnetic knack for attracting disaster, Pippi simply radiates off-the-charts fun and hilarity. Her zany theatricality and slapstick situations never fail to make me laugh out loud!

She’s a Breath of Fresh Air

In a fiction landscape crammed with cookie-cutter characters, flaws-and-all Pippi shakes things up as the irreverent breath of fresh air we didn’t know we needed. Free from all pretense with her caterwauling individuality, Pippi reminds us not to edit away our true personalities to conform.

She’s a Subtly Nuanced Female Role Model

On the surface Pippi flouts every rule for proper young ladies. But she also harbors courage, resourcefulness, empathy and inner strength without sacrificing her vibrant personality. Pippi celebrates the multidimensionality of what it means to be female.

She Takes Us Back to Childhood Innocence

By tapping into those nostalgic pangs for the simpler joys and unbridled imagination of childhood, Pippi transports us out of the stresses of adult life. Sometimes you need to look at life through the awe and wonder of a 9 year old again.

So whether you’re 8 or 80, grab some gold coins and set sail to laughter and adventure with literature’s most endearingly quirky heroine Pippi Longstocking!

5 More Lovable Heroines to Read After Pippi

If you adored the singular spirit of Pippi Longstocking, here are 5 more warmly offbeat and wisely whimsical literary girls I recommend checking out next:

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables

This fellow redhead shares Pippi’s ability to see beauty and humor in everyday life with starry-eyed wonder. Fostered by elderly siblings, Anne’s thirst for friendship, literary escapades and knack for attracting trouble will appeal to Pippi fans.

Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief

Both Pippi and Liesel endure the loss of family, and reinvent themselves with imagination in the face of grim realities. While not marked by Pippi’s madcap exploits, Liesel’s quiet inner strength and passion for books make her a compelling companion.

Matilda Wormwood from Matilda

With her precocious intellect and psychokinetic talents, Matilda has no patience for sanctimonious adults either. Readers will relish her gleeful turning of tables on nefarious school headmistresses!

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter series

Here’s another brilliant and resourceful girl who colorfully bends the rules with moral integrity when needed. Hermione’s endearing earnestness in excelling at magic school echo Pippi’s matter-of-fact swagger tackling outrageous escapades.

Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials trilogy

Lyra shares Pippi’s defiance of stuffy Scholastic authority and her brash pursuit of truth and adventure. With an irresistible pluckiness, Lyra also demonstrates fierce loyalty to friends like Pippi.

So if you loved losing yourself in Pippi’s madcap world, I highly recommend escaping into the spirited and wonderfully weird adventures of these literary ladies too!

Just like her quirky but golden-hearted heroine, Astrid Lindgren’s writing beautifully reminds us that most problems can be overcome with a bit of imagination, a lot of perseverance, and an outright refusal to take ourselves too seriously!


What inspired Astrid Lindgren to create the character of Pippi Longstocking?

Pippi Longstocking was inspired by Astrid Lindgren’s daughter Karin, who was bedridden due to an illness when she asked her mother to tell her a story about an extraordinary girl named Pippi. Lindgren crafted the character based on her daughter’s adventurous spirit and lively imagination during a difficult time.

What makes Pippi Longstocking different from other children’s book characters?

Unlike many children’s book characters, Pippi is completely independent and lives alone without adult supervision. She has eccentric manners, superhuman strength, and a casual attitude toward societal rules and conventions. Her freedom and self-confidence set her apart from traditional well-behaved girl characters.

Why is Pippi called “Pippi Longstocking”?

Pippi is named “Pippi Longstocking” because of her outrageous long red braids that stick straight out from her head. Her last name refers to the long stockings she wears, which are mismatched. Her appearance emphasizes her free spirit and non-conformity.

What extraordinary talents or abilities does Pippi Longstocking have?

Pippi has incredible superhuman strength – strong enough to lift a horse one-handed. She’s extremely independent and can take care of herself without any adults or rules. She also has bizarre talents like being able to climb trees incredibly fast. Her abilities emphasize her status as an extraordinary and exceptional girl.

What pets does Pippi Longstocking have?

Pippi has two pets – her horse who lives on the porch outside her house named Alfonso, and her pet monkey named Mr. Nilsson. Like Pippi herself, her pets are unusual and add to the absurdity and uniqueness of the character.

What is the main Pippi Longstocking house like?

Pippi lives alone in a small cottage she calls “Villa Villekulla.” The quirky house has reversed floors (the kitchen is upstairs), walls painted red with white polka dots, a backyard filled with cake trees, and a front porch where Pippi keeps her horse. Her home emphasizes her free, fun-loving spirit.

Who are Pippi Longstocking’s main friends?

Pippi’s best friends are the two neighbor children Tommy and Annika Settergren. Pippi enjoys going on adventures with them and scaring off bullies who try to tease them. They provide some supervision for Pippi but admire her freedom and super-strength.

Who are the main antagonists in the Pippi Longstocking books?

The main antagonists in the series are a group of mean, rude boys, particularly the leader Benke. They try to tease Tommy and Annika but prove no match for resourceful, strong Pippi who always outsmarts them in hilarious ways that discourage their bullying.

What is the legacy and influence of Pippi Longstocking today?

As one of the most popular and beloved children’s book characters, Pippi Longstocking set a precedent for free-spirited, independent girl protagonists. Countless children’s stories since have been influenced by her charm, strength, and subversion of gender stereotypes.

Why should modern parents continue reading Pippi Longstocking to their kids?

Today’s parents should read Pippi because her anti-establishment attitude, individualism, problem-solving, and adventurous spirit are still relevant. She inspires imagination and empowerment in both girls and boys without strong gender-typing – a refreshing contrast to Disney Princesses.

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