A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pippi Longstocking is a classic of children's literature, first published in Sweden in 1945, and since published in 40 languages. Pippi is a child living alone (her mother is dead and her father disappeared at sea), not going to school, and often behaving rudely. She's perhaps not the best role model, but she's generous and means well -- and kids love her.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Pippi's mother is dead, and her father disappeared at sea, so Pippi lives alone in a house at the edge of a small town. Lucky for her she has lots of money and is very tough and independent. She doesn't go to school (well, she tries once, but it doesn't work out too well), and spends her time with her pet monkey and horse, and playing with the well-behaved children next door. In a series of related short stories, Pippi makes even the most ordinary days exciting.
Is it any good?
Since its original publication in 1945, this story has been a favorite with children even as it has sometimes been controversial for adults; it's easy to see both sides. Children love it because of its heroine, a child completely freed from, subversive of, and stronger than, adult authority. Some adults are suspicious of it for the very same qualities. Less a novel than a series of vignettes connected only by common characters, it has a silly, but very childlike, sense of humor, is easy to read, and doesn't demand much of the reader beyond a suspension of disbelief -- so it's popular with young readers making the transition to chapter books.
This large-format edition boasts a seamless new translation (the original was written in Swedish) that modernizes the language a bit, but not too much. It also has new illustrations that are humorous, if a bit on the abstract side. Its size and large print make it well suited to reading aloud with a child following along in the text, and perhaps taking a turn with the reading. Though it may not have the same appeal to today's kids that it had for earlier generations, if you're looking to introduce your kids to a favorite from your own childhood, this is a good way to do it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Pippi's behavior. Why does she behave the way she does? Does she really not know better, or is she just rude and willful?
Why do you think Pippi Longstocking is considered a classic? How has it managed to appeal to generations of kids all over the world?
How do you think you would act if you lived all alone? What parts of this seem realistic, and what parts are just fantasy? Despite her often maddening behavior, does Pippi possess any likable qualities?