#WomenReadWomen2019 Award-Winning Books Books by Region Classics Early Readers Genre International Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Reading Themes Warrior Women and Social Justice

[Saturday Reads] The Unapologetic Singularity Of Pippi Longstocking

With illustrations by Lauren Child.


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

Irreverent, irrepressible, and totally unlike any child, Pippi Longstocking deserves to be the poster girl for the rebel child – except that, she does not seem to really perceive herself to be one – she is, quite simply, Pippi Longstocking.

Pippi Longstocking

Written by Astrid Lindgren Illustrated by Lauren Child Translated by Tiina Nunnally
Published by Viking (2007).
ISBN: 0670062766 (ISBN13: 9780670062768). Book was given to me as a gift. Book photos taken by me.

I know of Pippi Longstocking – not when I was a child, but as an adult. I’ve seen her image plastered on most bookstores that I’ve been to in Bergen, for one. I am forever grateful that there are fellow bibliophiles from various parts of the world who seem to know exactly the kind of book I’d enjoy based on our GatheringBooks posts, and are generous enough to give such books to me as surprise presents.

This is one such book gifted to me by a fellow book lover from Malaysia. Thank you, once again, Azliza, for sending Pippi over to me.

As can be seen in Lauren Child’s portrayal of Pippi in the title page, she can not be contained within the pages. She is much too expansive, too larger than life – for her to fit into a full page spread.

Unlike other children, such as Tommy and Annika who live next door, Pippi is parent-less. Yet she does not perceive herself as an orphan. Her father is lost at sea, so she believes that he got washed away in some foreign shore and has become the “King of the Natives.” Pippi’s mother, on the other hand, has died and is now an angel in the skies.

Rather than dwell on this, Pippi seems to revel in the fact that she can now cook her own meals (see her preparing gingersnaps in the middle of the kitchen floor in the image above), put herself to bed at a time of her choosing, and gets to decide whether she wants to go school to learn her “pluttification tables” or not.

My favourite, however, was Pippi’s time in the circus, and how she has bested the strongest man alive and the female equestrians by simply having fun and being who she is.

I squirm uncomfortably each time she will do something that will undoubtedly earn the disapproval of the adults – be they police officers or refined ladies discussing their maids over tea. Each and every time, she will prove herself to be the better person by doing things her way – even if it means carrying a horse on her shoulder or rescuing children from a burning skyscraper.

More importantly, she does these things not because she wants to be rebellious – or because she wants to provoke the righteous adults around her, but because that is how things are done in Argentina or in China, or simply put – how Pippi prefers to do it. And as the story goes, that is the best way to do things, really.

#WomenReadWomen2019: 12 of 25 – Sweden (Astrid Lindgren is from Sweden, Lauren Child is from UK, the translator Tiina Nunnally is based in the US)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Saturday Reads] The Unapologetic Singularity Of Pippi Longstocking

  1. Pippi Longstocking was a favorite of mine when I was a child! My son had a Pippi t-shirt when he was a wee tyke (it was her holding up a horse!) and I’m sure having a female hero was a good early experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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