A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's novel Pippi Longstocking (first published in Sweden in 1945), has been a middle-grade favorite for generations. Lindgren also wrote two sequels to this original book and broke parts out into storybooks for younger readers. Pippi is without parents: Her mother is dead, and her father disappeared at sea. She believes he landed on a South Seas island and rules it as "the Cannibal King." (Later editions changed this to "King of the Natives.") Young Pippi -- along with her pet monkey and horse -- lives in a ramshackle house, where she likes to make treats for her friends. Pippi has superhuman strength, bad manners (gasp!), a good deal of weaponry, and piles of gold. She tells tall tales about her family and her own adventures as well. Readers will need to check their disbelief at the door to Villa Vilkakulla and appreciate Pippi for the fun-loving thing-finder she is. Pippi brandishes pistols and a sword in a couple of scenes, and fires the guns once (at the ceiling). Her worst transgression is wolfing down the entire pie at a dignified coffee party. Note: The trilogy has been been called out for dated, colonialist, racist stereotyping of indigenous peoples. But the author has said she intended to show how inaccurate those stereotypes are, and in the second and third book, when Pippi goes to the South Seas, she shows Pippi gladly playing with indigenous kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING's mother is dead, and her father, whom she calls "the Cannibal King" (changed to "King of the Natives" in later editions), has disappeared at sea, so Pippi has moved into Villa Villekulla, an old house at the edge of a small town. Pippi soon befriends the children next door, Tommy and Annika, and delights them with her super strength and fun ideas. Pippi's adventures include a circus performance, a game of tag with the police, and a surprisingly eventful day at school.
Is it any good?
Pippi is an original hero -- stronger than the grown-ups and seemingly oblivious to their rules -- and she shakes up life for Tommy and Annika in wonderful ways. Their adventures, and Pippi's lack of manners, appeal to children's sense of humor and inspire imaginations. Who wouldn't want to live in a house with no adults and no bedtime, and feast on a diet of mainly cookies and pancakes? Pippi Longstocking has great appeal for middle grade readers, and it's good for read-aloud, as it's broken into compact bites, each like a short story. It also offers an opportunity to discuss the offensive stereotype of indigenous islanders as "cannibals."
A large-format edition offers an updated translation (that uses the term "King of the Natives") and funny illustrations by Lauren Child. Pippi Longstocking and its sequels have also been adapted into a series of Swedish movies (dubbed in English) and an animated musical.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Pippi Longstocking and tall tales. What is a tall tale? What tall tales does Pippi tell?
What do you think would happen if a student acted like Pippi in your class at school?
How is Pippi Longstocking different from girls in other books you've read?
- Author: Astrid Lindgren
- Illustrator: Lauren Child
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking
- Publication date: November 1, 1945
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 207
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 21, 2020
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