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Pippi Longstocking

The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature

Daniel Hahn

Pippi Longstocking 

(Pippi Långstrump) (1945) A celebrated Swedish children’s book by Astrid Lindgren. The original illustrator was Ingrid Vang. The book was translated into English in 1950 (USA) and 1954 (UK), and has appeared in more than sixty other languages.

Pippi is a nine-year-old redhead living by herself in Villekula Cottage, ‘at the end of a little Swedish town’. She has superhuman strength: she can lift a horse in her arms, and when two policemen try to take her off to a Children’s Home she picks them up by their belts. But she is also ungainly and untidy, and she specializes in tall stories and nonsensical backchat. One of the best scenes in the book describes her one and only day at school, during which she ridicules the entire educational system. She is usually accompanied by Tommy and Annika, conventionally good little children, who are open-mouthed at her exploits and sayings.

The book was by no means universally praised in Sweden when it was first published (one reviewer criticized ‘the inanities of the crazy style’), but soon established itself as an international classic. There are two sequels, Pippi Goes on Board (1946, English translation 1956), and Pippi in the South Seas (1948, English 1957). There are recent English-language editions with illustrations by Lauren Child (2010) and Tony Ross (2012).