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Friday, 25 April 2014

Literary Role Models for Girls 1: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lingdgren


This is a new series of posts that looks at literary icons for children, teens and tweens. Fed up of the idolisation of pop-stars and celebutantes who aren't always the best examples for the nations daughters (though I'm not saying they should be), I wanted to look at the girls and women that inspired me as a child and taught me that I could be anything I wanted.

Before Lisbeth Salander made everyone Scandimanic, there was one Pippi Longstocking; a nine-year-old with super human strength left to live alone by her sailor father with a horse and a monkey. Recogniseable for her ginger pigtails and freckles, she is rude and adventurous possessing little formal education, yet having all the necessary life skills to look after herself.


Whilst living alone in a multi- coloured mansion with only animals for company and no grown-ups to tell one what to do may be every child's dream, it is the spirit of Pippi that stays with you to adulthood. Sparky, prone to truth stretching and the antithesis of the traditional little girl ideals of dolls and cooking, she has been encouraging fun and good clean mischief for over sixty years.

The children came to a perfume shop. In the show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRECKLES?

"What does the sign say?” asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.

"It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’” said Annika. 

"Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.” She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly. 

"What is it you want?” asked the lady.

"No,” said Pippi once more.

"I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.

"No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi.Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out,

“But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”

"I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.” She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, “But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.” 

― Astrid LindgrenPippi Longstocking

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