Remember the catchy theme song from the Pippi Longstocking movie? “Pippi Longstocking is coming into your world, a freckle-faced, red-head girl you outta know…”* For me, the tune conjures up the image of an unconventional girl with two long red plaits, odd socks and scrubbing brush “skates” on her feet. The movie was released in 1988, based on the book, which was first published in 1945.
I was thrilled to find a beautiful reprint for the twins for Christmas with colour illustrations by Lauren Child, the author/illustrator behind the sweet BBC children’s TV show Charlie and Lola. The inside jacket describes it as a “sparkling new translation”. I haven’t got an old copy to compare it to, but the story felt modern, so perhaps the language has been updated.
In any case, the twins loved it. In our house, Pippi Longstocking was one of those “just one more chapter please” books. It’s based on a fairly outrageous premise – an orphaned girl, aged 9, living in a house on her own with a horse and a monkey and seemingly unlimited funds. But perhaps that’s the appeal. My girls realised that parts of the story were quite ridiculous (like Pippi having the strength to lift her horse onto her porch) but still loved hearing about her crazy adventures with friends Annika and Tommy. Throughout the book, Pippi endears herself to the townfolk – and to readers – with her friendly warmth.
The illustrations are a delight. In the same style as Charlie and Lola, Lauren Child uses collage to create the most charming pictures that really capture the story’s sense of fun. Even the layout is playful, with words sometimes printed wonky, or even backwards – a fun challenge for new readers. Being an illustrated chapter book meant my girls could enjoy listening to a more complicated, engaging story, but still be inspired by the pictures.
This is a great kid’s book and I’d recommend reading it to children from about age five.
This book kids love is written by Astrid Lindgren and illustrated by Lauren Child. 208pp. Published in London by Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780192782403.
*Margie Nelson and the International Children’s Choir