Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pippi Longstocking

By Astrid Lindgren.

There are at least 3 books in the series. They are a wonderful exploration of how a child can live autonomously, delighting in cleaning the kitchen floor with sponges tied to her feet (though she wouldn't want to do it every day).

In a couple of short paragraphs, Pippi exposes the nonsense of teacher-led schools (and decides not to go again, thank you). Her enormous strength protects her from intrusive adults, and Tommy and Annika gradually learn to relax into Pippi's unconventional adventures - what does it matter if some crockery gets broken on the way, ot Tommy cuts his finger a little?

But Pippi is also aware of not quite fitting into societty's norms and it bothers her. She would benefit from a trusted advocate to help her navigate a tea party or a circus trip ensuring that others enjoy themselves too.

I would recommend Astrid Lindgren, but Pippi in particular, to any child, and most urgently to those who spend too much of their time being bossed around by adults. A splendid subversive birthday present...

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