Book: Pippi Longstocking
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Age: 8 – 12 years
(I am typing this review on behalf of my 9 year old daughter, Ankita. This is one of her favorite books so she has chosen to write the review on her own. I have helped her at some places)
Pippi Longstocking, is one of my favorite novels. Before reading it I didn’t know that it’s author, Astrid Lindgren, has won the highest international award in children’s literature which is The Hans Christian Andersen Medal and this particular novel by her has been translated in 40 languages.
My mother chose this book for me as it was recommended by Kids Book Café (we lovingly call it #KBC now) and though it was the picture on the cover page that attracted me first towards it, later I got so addicted to it that I finished reading it in four days.
The story is about Pippi, a 9 year old girl who comes to stay all alone in her father’s retirement house, Villa Villekula, which is present at the outskirts of a small town. She is a remarkable child, in the sense that she dresses herself rather queerly. With red pigtails, an unusual dress and big shoes, her appearance itself is weird. She is very strong physically and is accompanied by her pet friend Mr. Nilsson (a monkey), and a horse (unnamed).
Pippi had lost her mother when she was an infant and her father, who was a sea captain, had been blown overboard in a sea storm. She had travelled a great deal with her father to faraway lands before losing him, and from time to time uses excerpts from her voyages in her conversations. Pippi is quite sure that her father is still alive, and is now a cannibal king of some tribe on a lost island and will surely come back one day.
Currently all alone in this world with no one to teach her or guide her about anything, Pippi has made her own rules & ways and lives accordingly. She somewhere knows that her ways are not very civilized or normal, but is happy and confident about whatever she does.
This girl who lives all alone in this Villa, with a suitcase full of gold pieces (she needs money to survive, though can’t even count them well) befriends Tommy and Annika who are her neighbour’s children and are well dressed and well bred. As Pippi is not the regular next-door-kid, Tommy and Annika are first surprised and fascinated by her dressing sense, her power of lifting heaviest of the things with ease, her outrageous nature, her boldness, her wit, etc. But as they are bored of their normal life and are adventure-hungry, they accept Pippi and her friendship with open arms. Pippi also keeps inviting them to her Villa and even gives them treats and gifts which make them best of friends.
There after begins a series of adventures in which Pippi fights a bully, arranges a picnic, teaches Tommy and Annika how to become a Thing -Finder and even goes to a circus. There is also a hilarious account of how Pippi has an encounter with two Burglars. As Pippi is not well versed with civilized ways of living or mannerisms, she ruins Mrs Settergren’s (Tommy and Anikka’s mother) coffee party and is thus banned from their home.
On one hand you will feel bad for Pippi, when she turns her first day at school into a disaster (more due to her ignorance than mischief), despite her teachers’ best efforts to make her comfortable. While on the other hand her bravery and courage is admirable when she rescues two small children from a building which is set on fire. One gets a feeling that maybe Pippi is not one of the best dressed, well behaved or well versed children, but she definitely is very kind and means well for everyone.
Pippi Longstocking has been a controversial book in the sense that some people (especially adults) don’t approve of Pippi’s unruly and bizzare ways of living, and her outrageous ways are not very pleasant but according to me, Pippi Longstocking teaches us kids two very important lessons:
One is to turn a tragic situation in life into something happier and more workable.
Second, to accept oneself as we are and try to improve but not change ourselves completely, being self-conscious of what others will think of us. It kind of instills confidence into oneself especially at an age (tweens or teens) when one starts getting conscious about many things like looks, friends, behavior, etc. Sometimes one even feels low when nothing is actually wrong.
I recommend that every tween (8-10 years old) and even every teenager, especially girls must read this book once. It may not appear very real or logic driven, but will definitely make the reader come out more strong and confident about himself or herself.
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