Pippi Longstocking Summary

Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking

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Pippi Longstocking Summary

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The first in a series of twelve children’s books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking recounts the fantastical adventures of the title character, a young girl named Pippi Longstocking. Pippi’s mother died while she was a baby and she spent her early years sailing the sea on her father’s boat, having adventures and learning about the world. When her father was swept overboard during a terrible storm, Pippi left the boat and took her pet monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and a suitcase full of gold coins to the family home, Villa Villekulla, where she now lives alone.

Two children, Tommy and Annika, live next door with their parents. They are excited when Pippi moves into Villa Villekulla and the three children quickly become firm friends. One day, Pippi, who describes herself as a “Thing-Finder,” invites the children to come with her as she searches the neighborhood for interesting items. During their search, they encounter a little boy crying about being bullied. Pippi immediately confronts the lead bully, Bengt, who tries to push her over. However, Pippi has superhuman strength and simply lifts Bengt up and puts him in a tree. She then scatters the rest of the bullies throughout the yard and leaves with her friends.

Later, the town’s adults grow concerned about Pippi living alone in Villa Villekulla, believing that she would be safer living in a children’s home. They send two police officers to escort her out of her house, but Pippi is baffled by the whole experience and berates them with questions. When they attempt to catch her, she turns it into a game of tag, and when they trick her and try to grab her, she picks them up, one in each hand, and deposits them in the street. After this, the police officers tell the other adults that Pippi is fine staying exactly where she is.

Tommy and Annika persuade Pippi to start attending school, convinced that it will be a lot more fun if she does. Pippi agrees so that she can have summer holidays and Christmas breaks. However, while she entertains the other children, who love her stories, ideas, questions, and adventures, the teacher finds her frustrating and disruptive and Pippi soon stops attending class. Despite this, she continues to see Tommy and Annika and they spend time climbing trees, having picnics, and escaping from a charging bull thanks to Pippi’s immense strength.

One day, a circus visits the town and the children all go along to see the performance. However, simply watching the show is not enough for Pippi who ends up getting involved, first standing up on the back of a horse and then outperforming the tightrope walkers to the delight of the crowd and the annoyance of the performers. After the ringmaster confidently offers a hundred dollars to anyone who can beat Adolf, the strongest man in the world, he is surprised to see Pippi overpower him with ease and even more surprised when she turns down the money.

Everyone in town is now aware of Pippi’s remarkable abilities, but some outsiders still see her as an easy target. When two wandering thieves turn up at Villa Villekulla to ask for a sandwich, they see Pippi counting her gold coins and decide to rob her later that night, after she has gone to bed. However, Pippi captures them and then makes one of them dance with her all night while the other one plays music by blowing on a comb. By the end of the night, the thieves are exhausted and Pippi gives them food and a gold piece each, which she says they have earned through their playing and dancing.

When Tommy and Annika’s mother has friends over for a coffee party, she lets the children invite Pippi over too. Although Pippi tries to be on her best behavior, without realizing it, she upsets the women through a series of unintentionally rude acts. She bothers them with endless stories, eats all of the cake, and gets sugar everywhere. Even after she drives the women out of the house, Pippi continues to follow them, shouting out the end of her story.

One day, when Tommy and Annika are busy, Pippi rides into town on her horse. There she discovers the townspeople in a state of panic because a tall house is on fire and two boys are stuck on the top floor. No one else can reach the boys but Pippi and her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, climb up and rescue them, to everyone’s delight.

When Pippi’s birthday arrives, she invites Tommy and Annika over for a party. The two children each give Pippi a present and she insists on giving each of them two presents, because she can do what she likes on her birthday. Later, they play games and go searching for ghosts. Eventually, Tommy and Annika’s father collects them and Pippi is left on her own. As the two children and their father walk away at the close of the book, they hear Pippi shouting out that she wants to be a pirate when she grows up.

Although first published in 1945, Pippi Longstocking remains extremely popular throughout the world. To date, it has been translated into more than forty languages and, along with the other books in the series, served as the basis for numerous movies and television adaptations. In 2002, the novel was listen as one of the “Top 100 Works of World Literature” by the Norwegian Nobel Institute. It is particularly celebrated for its positive portrayal of young girls as strong, brave, intelligent, and independent.