As if I made a pact to let out what we are reading, here is another blog entry on a book we are devouring. This is book about Pippi Longstocking.
If you are a parent who doesn’t want his daughter to grow up to be a self confident, assertive and strong willed young lady then you should steer clear away from this book. I assume almost everyone is familiar with the book or has seen one of the movies based on it.
Pippi, the heroine and quite a character, is a person who lives by her rules and even though she is just a young girl, she has it all. Not distressed by a lack of parental control she lives a happy life in Villa Villekulla. She is surrounded by her favorite animals and has loving friends, too. Even though she is a dominant and bossy young lady she is also an owner of a caring heart and is known for giving a helping hand to those in need.
To me she is a perfect example of how a child that can easily intimidate grown ups. Very often, when she engages herself in conversations with adults, she picks up a word or two from their chit chat and takes over. She is weaving an amazingly bizarre tale of impossible things that are mostly her pure imagination and with an air of absolute certainty talks her companions to death. She even manages to convince them that she is right and they are wrong, a rare thing for a nine year old girls. I assume some of adults might say that she is actually telling stories, or even worse, she is blatantly lying. But I choose to believe she is innocently capitalizing on her imagination and letting it go wild at times. Her heart is not into making good people miserable and she can become a powerful defender who saves mistreated animals, disarms dangerous and stupid people. She is well known in her own little town and even though she is definitely standing out she has all the people’ support.
The author Astrid Lindgren wrote the book when her daughter was ill and kept begging her to tell her a story. Astrid asked her to pick a name and that’s how Pippi came to be. Lindgren spun a story about an unusual girl and when she was ready to send a manuscript to a publisher, she asked not to mention that she was a mother because she feared that Swedish CPS might interrogate her about her parenting. This book was written in fifties and certainly was not a typical fare for young girls.
So, why do we like it here? Because this books emphasizes that a girl and a child can be smart, well spoken and assertive. Unlike other book heroines Pippi is not a quiet, nice and well mannered girl. She is an antithesis of all what ladylike and proper is. But would her quiet and gentle friend Annika get a mean horse owner to treat his animal with dignity? There is a room in this world for people like Annika and Pippi but we mostly teach our children how to behave and be quiet. That is not to say that I believe we need to teach them to be vulgar and overbearing but a little of Pippi in each of them would certainly help them in life and would improve our world a little. And don’t forget the imagination, this is a wonderful and powerful thing.