Discussing the Outrageous Pippi Longstocking – by Astrid Lindgren
Readers all over the world immediately recognize a mischievous girl with red braids and a penchant for creating trouble. And young readers will laugh and smile at Pippi’s antics! This is a fun book – perfect for summer reading! Not to mention excellent for reading out loud.
Pippi resides in Sweden, home of the author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi’s story actually began when Lindgren’s nine year old daughter, Karin, requested a story one day when she was home from school, ill in bed. Her mother began a story about an outrageous girl who had a tendency to end up in unpredictable, crazy adventures, and also has amazing strength (never explained but quite often put to use in her adventures – picking up a horse or grown man!). Karin named the character “Pippi Langstrump.” When Lindgren first submitted her manuscript for publication, it was rejected. Finally, it was published with a different company (1945), along with additional books about Pippi’s adventures over the following years. Three longer Pippi books were published (Pippi Longstocking, 1945; Pippi Goes on Board, 1946; and Pippi in the South Seas, 1948). Several picture books and short books based on adventures in the original books have also been published over the years. The first Pippi film was completed in 1949; since that time, there have been other films, television specials, television series (in Sweden in 1969), a later American film in 1988, and other productions, on stage and on screen, in multiple countries.
Pippi has a suitcase of gold coins, a house with no grown ups around (Villa Villekula) and the companionship of her horse and Mr. Nilsson (a monkey) and two best friends nearby, Tommy and Annika. Pippi is unconventional and terrible at following the “rules” of society or school. Yet she is also trustworthy, loyal, and thoughtful in her friendships with Tommy and Annika. Mrs. Settergren is not thrilled about many of Pippi’s wild adventures, but comes to understand that the friendship is good for all three children. While Pippi tells many tall tales, she also tells the truth when questioned, displays her loyalty and thoughtfulness with Tommy and Annika, and acts selflessly to help other people when the situation calls for it.
Readers will have fun discussing their favorite Pippi adventures, as well as the qualities that make Pippi an interesting and fascinating friend. This book presents an excellent opportunity to discuss characters and characterization, as we learn about each character through the many haphazard events throughout the book.
Finding the Words for Pippi
An easy extension idea that will get your readers thinking about Pippi (and words!) is a simple vocabulary brainstorming session. This brainstorming idea sparked a lot of discussion – and sometimes debate – about Pippi and her antics with a group that recently read Pippi Longstocking. One reader came up with a word and then described the incident that provided the “evidence” for that characteristic, then another reader who add another word or description. Truly, one word sparked another word and another word until we had quite a list of very creative words to describe Pippi!
Some of the words my young readers discovered:
Pippi exudes energy and creativity! So why not use that energy and creativity for writing?
- Write your own Pippi chapter. In your chapter, include: a title, a silly or new event/adventure for Pippi, Tommy and Annika, and use dialogue for each of them. Have fun!
- Imagine a conversation between Pippi and a teacher. Select a topic or new story for Pippi and imagine what Pippi and the teacher may discuss about this new adventure.
- Write about what Pippi will be like as a grown up. Imagine what she is doing, where she is living, and what kinds of things she does during the day as an adult. Use dialogue and be creative!
More Resources for Pippi