Study Guide

Pippi Longstocking

By Astrid Ericsson Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking Introduction

Pippi Longstocking is your typical girl-meets-monkey, girl-buys-horse, girl-monkey-and-horse-share-a-house-and-ignore-local-laws sort of story.

Wait… what?

Okay, Pippi Longstocking isn't a typical story at all, mainly because Pippi isn't a typical girl—by today's standards or by the standards of Sweden in 1945, which is when (and where) author Astrid Lindgren first published the book.

For one thing, Pippi is nine and she lives alone (with the monkey and the horse, of course). For another, she's the strongest girl in the world—strong enough to lift cows, horses, and police officers on her own. And third, even though her mom died when she was a baby and her dad is currently M.A.S. (Missing At Sea), Pippi's having the time of her life. She stays up all night, eats pastries all day long, skips school, draws on the walls and floors, and generally does whatever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants.

That's probably why more than a few adults have expressed skepticism about the book over the years. Turns out, some people don't think Pippi is a particularly good role model. On the other hand, there are people who view Pippi as a feminist icon, a challenge to authoritarian societies and the status quo, a noble savage, or… just plain fun.

Whatever your take (and you'll likely have more than one before you're through), the fact that Pippi has shocked, angered, encouraged, and delighted people seems like a pretty good reason to check this book out. Not to mention that Astrid Lindgren won more literature prizes (for Pippi as well as many of her other works) than we can list here without completely boring you. Oh—and the largest award in children's literature, the ALMA? Yeah, that's named in Lindgren's honor (the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award).

What is Pippi Longstocking About and Why Should I Care?

You're kidding, right? It's Pippi Longstocking. If you're lucky, someone read this book to you way back before you could read it yourself. If not, you're still lucky. Why? Because Pippi Longstocking is one of those rare books that has something for everyone, from your four-year-old brother to your ninety-six-year-old grandma.

Pippi is like a Pixar movie. You know the ones we're talking about: Toy Story, Cars, Up, Ratatouille, Brave… The list goes on (and on), but the thing about Pixar and Pippi is that they can be appreciated on multiple levels. From the sight gags and physical comedy that get the little kids going to the subtler jokes and social commentary that keep the adults interested, it's all there.

So if you read Pippi as a kid (or had it read to you), it's time to take another look and see what you might have missed the first time around. And if you've never encountered Pippi before, well, you're in for a treat. This book is like Nickelodeon meets Adult Swim (although the steaminess rating is closer to the Nickelodeon end of that continuum), and you, dear Shmoopster, are at an age where you can appreciate both ends of that spectrum.

Pippi Longstocking Resources

Websites

If You Can Read It, You Can Build It
Eric Eti Smit enjoys both Pippi and LEGO so much that he's combined the two. Check out his Flickr page to see his incredibly detailed reconstruction of Villa Villekulla, complete with Mr. Nilsson and the horse on the porch.

As Astrid Lindgren's World Turns
Lindgren is so popular in Sweden, there's an Astrid Lindgren theme park. And guess who you can meet there. Uh-huh—Pippi. There are characters from Lindgren's other books, too. Be prepared: this site is in Swedish. (No worries. Your browser will most likely offer to translate it for you.)

Mr. Nilsson's Dark Side
If reading Pippi has made you think that keeping a monkey as a pet would be really cool, you may want to think again. And read this article entitled, "The Perils of Keeping Monkeys as Pets."

Movie or TV Productions

Pippi Longstocking (1969)
This is the 1969 Swedish TV series starring Inger Nilsson (no relation to Mr.) as Pippi. Astrid Lindgren, who was dissatisfied with a 1949 film adaptation of her book, wrote the screenplay for this series herself.

Pippi on the Run (1970)
In this 1970 full-length feature starring Inger Nilsson, Tommy and Annika do the unthinkable (at least for Tommy and Annika): they get fed up with their parents and run away with Pippi. Astrid Lindgren was on hand to write the screenplay for this one, too.

Pippi in the South Seas (1970)
Pippi never believed her father really drowned, and in this feature film (based on Lindgren's novel of the same name) she, Tommy, and Annika set out to rescue him. This is the last of the films starring Inger Nilsson.

The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988)
This Americanized version of Pippi stars Tami Erin as Pippi and features unexplained and seemingly unnecessary new spellings for a few characters (Mr. Nilsson and the Settergrens become Mr. Neilson and the Settigrens). It's worth noting that both Lindgren's daughter Karin and Dr. Ulla Lundqvist, who wrote her Ph.D thesis on Pippi, hated this version.

Articles and Interviews

"The Pippi Longstocking Legacy"
Written in 2011, nine years after Lindgren's death, this BBC article discusses Pippi's origins, her impact, and the possibility of a new Hollywood film.

Pippi Scholarship
If you doubt Pippi's impact on society, find yourself a cozy corner and settle in for a reading of Kara Lynn Braun's 1992 M.A. thesis on "The Image of Childhood in Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking."

Swedish Star Power
From the Christian Science Monitor, this article explains how Pippi—and Astrid Lindgren—became worldwide phenomena.

Pippi at Sixty-Two
On what would have been Astrid Lindgren's 100th birthday, The Independent (UK) celebrates her life and the continued popularity of Pippi Longstocking with an article about Lindgren's life, her legacy, and her link with Ingmar Bergman.

Video

Original Trailer for 1969 Pippi Movie
This is worth watching just to see how movie trailers were done back in the day. The Swedish movie is dubbed in English here (which is always fun), and the announcer's voiceover is the late 1960s/early '70s through and through. Good, clean fun for the whole family.

Pippi's Theme Song
Here's the original theme song in Swedish. It's pretty catchy, which could be why the Frankfurt Unity soccer fans in Germany have set their cheer song to its tune.

Pippi in Color
This is the first video in which Pippi appears in color so that people can really appreciate her red braids. This snippet was part of Shirley Temple's Storybook on American TV, and Pippi is being played by Mouseketeer Gina Gillespie. They take a few liberties here (smart pills?), but it's pretty faithful to the book.

Audio

Remembering Astrid Lindgren
A 2002 look back at Astrid Lindgren's life and her most famous creation—Pippi Longstocking—upon the occasion of Lindgren's death at age 94.

Scandinavian Children's Lit
This twenty-eight minute feature from the BBC discusses some of our favorite Scandinavian authors including Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson in an attempt to figure out why it is that the Scandinavians rock when it comes to kid and YA lit. Pippi, of course, is prominently featured.

Images

Astrid Lindgren
Here's Lindgren relaxing with a few of her books. Notice who's sitting right next to her (on the left—and the right).

Inger Nilsson—with Mr. Nilsson (no relation)
Inger Nilsson played Pippi in the Swedish TV series and in a couple of feature films.

Pippi Book Cover
Here's a Pippi Longstocking cover circa 1997, published by Viking Press.

Pippi in the 21st Century
This edition of Pippi is illustrated by Lauren Childs, author of the Clarice Bean series. It was published in 2007 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Astrid Lindgren's birth.

Animated Pippi
Here's a still from the animated musical version of Pippi Longstocking directed by Clive A. Smith.