My copy of Pippi Longstocking is a bookclub edition, one of several that my mother ordered for me when I was a girl. What sets Pippi (and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim) apart in this series, however, is the fact that I never reread them as I reread the others. The copies of Mary Poppins and Caddie Woodlawn were especially well-worn and well-loved, but I still haven’t managed to read Kim (go ahead: convince me), and if I read Pippi at all, I only read it once.
Why? Why? Why? It makes no sense.
I blame it on the cover illustration. Because surely, if I hadn’t been such a superficially swayed child, I would have absolutely loved loved loved Pippi. She’s far more of a trouble-maker and freethinker than Anne in Anne of Green Gables (and I reread her until the spine of my copy started to shed). Why would I not have revisited Villa Villekulla as often as I did Green Gables? Particularly given that Mr. Nilsson (her monkey) is way more fun than Gilbert ever was.
Pippi’s idea of exercise is to do 43 somersaults in a row. I could get behind that. And then she drinks coffee and has bread and cheese. Yup, I’ll sign on the dotted line for that program. She stays up half the night to play ball or learn a new dance, and she keeps a horse on her backporch. She tells herself when to go to bed and rolls out her cookie dough on the floor (because “…what earthly use is a baking board when one plans to make a least five hundred cookies!”).
Now, Pippi is one of a kind. She travelled the world with her father, a sea captain who has blown overboard and disappeared. It’s possible that her adventures in literature may be short-lived because when her father comes back, she will be a cannibal princess. A role which will undoubtedly cut into her playtime.
But, until then, “You just never can tell about anything when it comes to Pippi.” Just when you think you have an idea about the lengths to which she will go in her adventures, something unexpected occurs.
“Never let children handle firearms,” said Pippi and took a pistol in each hand and prepared to fire. “Otherwise some accident can easily happen,” she said, shooting off both pistols at once. “That was a good bang,” she announced and looked up in the ceiling. The bullets had made two holes.
You see what I mean about Pippi? She’s a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Anne was far too worried about being good to play with firearms.
I’m glad to have finally made Pippi’s acquaintance, and I hope it’s not too late for us to be best friends.
PS I read this as part of Dewey’s Read-a-Thon, but it also counts towards the 1% Well-Read Challenge.