Pippi Longstocking is the beloved character created by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. She first became known to the world in the title book Pippi Longstocking published in 1945. Lindgren modeled the character after some of her own favorite female characters in novels, particularly Anne Shirley, of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and its sequels.
To this date, the Pippi Longstocking books are some of the most popular children’s books, and have been translated into hundreds of languages because of their popularity. In total there have been 11 books featuring the character. The title book was also made into a campy Swedish film that many enjoy.
A US television series based on the books enjoyed some success in 1997. Also in the 1990s, a US film, The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking was made.
Pippi seems most endearing to children because she lives outside established conventions. She has a father who is a pirate, and who only appears from time to time. Mainly she lives alone, and how she wishes. Her behavior often surprises her best friends, siblings Annika and Tommy. Though Pippi often errs, her nature is generous, frequently to a fault.
The character is exceptionally strong and has ample piles of gold for enacting her outrageous schemes. Her hair is bright red, and is usually worn in two braids that stick straight out from each side of her head. In the first Pippi Longstocking, she is nine years old.
Pippi entertains Annika and Tommy with greatly exaggerated tales of her adventures. In some cases, these fantastic tales turn out to be true. She also enjoys defying adult conventions for the proper behavior of children and making fools of adults who behave badly. Her “day” at school is enough to put fear in the heart of any teacher, and she decides not to return.
Critics have celebrated Pippi as a fantastic feminist character. She is definitely self-willed, and self-directed. Her behavior certainly flies in the face of the conventional girl heroine of a book written in the 1940s.
The books are suitable to young readers with a year or two of reading experience; much older readers may enjoy the books as well. They tend to be most appealing to young girls who enjoy Pippi’s unconventional ways and independence. The films have fallen short of the original stories, which is unfortunate. However, the original Swedish film does have something of a cult following.