Astrid and Pippi

At the end of a little Swedish town lay an old, over-grown orchard. In the orchard was a cottage, and in this cottage lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived all alone. She had neither mother nor father, which was really rather nice, for in this way there was no-one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the most fun…

Strange, really, how the most fun is always being had just at bedtime. But that seems to be the way of it, with our kids at least. And with the famous Pippi.

Yesterday was the hundredth birthday of Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking as well as a host of other characters who are deeply etched into the Swedish consciousness. Reading Astrid Lindgren, or watching the films, is part of growing up in Sweden. It seems like everyone has read her books.

Mind you, She died a few years ago, and it is a long time since she wrote anything. But her books still delight kids, and grownups, all over the world. We have read many of them, or watched the movies. Ronia, the Robbers Daughter, Madicken, Emil from Lönneberga, The Brothers Lionheart, Karlsson – the list goes on and on. But it is Pippi Longstocking who has gained the greatest fame around the world. And you can understand why she is so loved when you read about how beautiful she was…

Her hair was the same colour as carrot, and was braided in two stiff pigtails that stood straight out from her head. Her nose was the shape of a very small potato, and was dotted with freckles. Under the nose was a really large mouth, with healthy white teeth. Her dress was curious indeed. Pippi had made it herself. It was supposed to have been blue, but when there hadn’t been quite enough blue cloth, Pippi had decided to add little red patches here and there. On her long thin legs she wore long stockings, one brown and the other black. And she had a pair of black shoes which were just twice as long as her feet. Her father had bought them in South America so she would have something to grow into, and Pippi never wanted any others.

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One thought on “Astrid and Pippi

  1. “… she had a pair of black shoes which were just twice as long as her feet. Her father had bought them in South America so she would have something to grow into, and Pippi never wanted any others.”

    Hi Dave, there is something so desolate underlying the joy and fun of the Pippi stories (to me, anyway). The absence of her parents – celebrated, yet tempered by her longing for her father to reappear.

    This bit about the shoes is Sarah to a tee. When she was eight or nine, she was given a pair of slippers by her father who was visiting on a rare occasion. They were far too small for Sarah at that age – he completely failed to realise how much his daughter had grown, reflecting how poorly he knew her, and how little her reflected on what she was really like. When he had gone, someone said they should take them to a shop and change them, but Sarah would violently refuse anyone taking these shoes off her – such a rare sign of her father’s interest in her. She ended up cutting the heels out of them so that she could wear them around the house …

    Pete.

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