Happy Birthday, Pippi Longstocking

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Pippi turns 72 years old on Sunday, November 26th.  In honor of Astrid Lindgren bringing the fantastical character of Pippi to life, I decided to read the book again as an adult.  I now have a very different perspective of Pippi.  I will share those with you now.  I promise not to destroy your whimsical memories of Pippi Longstocking!

I do not remember specifically reading Pippi Longstocking as a kid but I know that I did.  I fondly remember Pippi coupled with the books and the movies I was introduced to as a kid.  She was a weird red-headed girl who didn’t go to school or live with any grown-ups.  She was your childhood dream neighbor because you never knew what adventures were coming your way.  She was the cool kid in the neighborhood and had a pet monkey.  What was not to love?

As a woman in her thirties, who has been exposed to the life of an adult, I have one opinion of Pippi Longstocking.  Holy crap she is the most obnoxious kid ever!  She has no filter.  She is messy.  She has absolutely no manners to speak of.  She is opinionated without any formal education. She is always highly caffeinated due to all the coffee she drinks.  She lies constantly.  I would not have wanted her to attend any of my library programs.  She is every baby-sitters worst nightmare. At nine years old, she is not intimidated by any authority figure.  No wonder the children’s home does not want her.  She has no fear which is not a bad thing but it is demonstrated poorly in the book.  Instead of listening to police officers who are looking out for her best interest she decides to play tag and climb to the roof to escape them.  Instead of being terrified of robbers in her home she leads them into an impromptu dance party.   Ridiculous.

However, my view is not all bad.  I still appreciate the youthfulness she epitomizes in children’s literature.  She speaks to individuality and being true to yourself.  Pippi is unapologetically true to herself.  She demonstrates that it is okay to be true to yourself.  While she has no manners she knows enough to apologize to those around her who do have good manners.  She may be an odd girl but she is also a hero as she saves children from a burning building.  I will note that a nine year old should never walk across a tightrope to jump into a burning building.  Pippi Longstocking speaks to kids and how they view the world.  She shows that inquisitiveness is okay.  She instills a sense of adventure and a desire to do great things.

In conclusion, while I now find Pippi to be annoying in my adulthood, I will always think of her as did as a child.  She will always be that weird red-head who got to live alone and do what she wanted.  The strange girl who kept a horse on her porch and slept in her bed backwards.

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