Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Pippi Longstocking - M's Review

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

If you have never met her before in your life, let me introduce you to a nine year old thing-searcher called Pippilotta Comestibles Windowshade Curlymint Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking, more commonly known as Pippi. The locals think she lives alone but she doesn’t: she lives with Mr Nilsson (who’s a monkey) and a horse in a house in Sweden.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
The first book, Pippi Longstocking, tells about her moving into Villa Villekulla, settling into the town and establishing herself as the super-strongest and most remarkable girl who is quite capable of dealing with the worst of the town bullies in the most non-violent way.  She sees things differently to other people and her neighbours, Annika and Tommy are quite taken in by her – as am I. But boy, can that girl lie!

Underneath the rollicking good fun of the stories, Astrid Lindgren’s  Pippi stories also raise more complex issues like whether children (like Pippi) should live on their own in a house or whether they should go into a children’s home; should they be educated in a school or can life provide them with another sort of education; and of course, what is hygiene and the best way of walking? And is the best thing about school the holidays?

Each chapter is a semi-adventure with Pippi and as such, it’s not really a very linear narrative with a strong storyline. It is an easy and fun chapter book for young independent readers and it would also make for wonderful bedtime or family reading. I’d also be tempted to go all out and read it in conjunction with a copy of something like Keri Smith’s How To Be An Explorer of the World (which is a non-fiction activity journal good for kids of all grown-up or grown-down ages).

I don’t think I ever read Pippi Longstocking as a child but I watched and loved the television series (a dubbed version). She was one of my all-time favourite characters because she thought and did some very unexpected and wildly cool things.

I was properly introduced to Astrid Lindgren's writing and the Pippi books by the funny and interesting Alaric Hall, a lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Leeds University (note: Pippi is not an example of medieval literature). He has a personal interest in Scandinavian children’s literature (think Pippi, Moomins and Hans Christian Andersen).

If you haven’t read any Pippi, I urge you to do so. Likewise, if you ever get the chance to meet Alaric Hall, I urge you to do so. In his own special way, he is as vibrant and enigmatic as Pippi.

Alaric Hall, image courtesy of Leeds University

Publication details:
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012 edition, paperback

 This copy: received for review from the publisher

OUP has republished two more of the Pippi books in a paperback edition: Pippi in the South Seas and Pippi Goes Abroad. In these books, the adventures of Pippi, Annika and Tommy continue. There is also a beautiful hardback edition with illustrations by Lauren Child.


  1. I do love the illustrations on the covers! Pippi Longstocking is a book I have heard a lot about but not read and so this review gave me a good insight in to it.

  2. I absolutely LOVED Pippi as a child (I grew up in the 1970s). I think it was one of the first books I read for myself, and since most of the books I remember from school were about boys having adventures and girls being domestic, I think it was Pippi's independence and bravery I remember. Sandi Toksvig read the stories on Radio 4 Extra last year; hope they get repeated. Lovely review; thanks for sharing!

    1. My young neice is just moving onto short chapter books for shared reading, and she's just discovered Pippi. Apparently, it's the first book that she's 'liked' other than all the fairy, magic princessy books. For me, it's always been Pippi's independence that stood out. She's a bit like a 'heroine' for me.


Hi there! We'd love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment. You need to fill out the word captcha too because of spam. Your comment will be visible after approval.