Monday, April 11, 2011

Rediscovering Childhood Books: Pippi in the South Seas

Recently, my cousin and I were digging through boxes of books at her mom's house and found several of my childhood favorites. The first one to re-read was Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren. As a child I always loved Pippi Longstocking with her crazy red braids, mismatched clothing and disregard for adult supervision. I hoped I would still love Pippi as an adult, and found after re-reading that I have a new appreciation for the character. Lindgren's storytelling really holds up for me. Pippi is a character that springs off the page with vibrant personality and remains a shining example of what we want to be like as children. She lives on her own and there are rarely consequences for her actions. Realistic? No. Totally fun? Yes. In that, she captures the most ideal parts of our childhood: when imagination dominated and our biggest worries were notes sent home from school about our misbehavior.
I didn't remember how much art was in the book, as Pippi in the South Seas is not a picture book. Each chapter has a thumbnail ink sketch about the subject of the chapter and there are full page sketches scattered throughout the book. Perhaps it is the comics influence in my life, but these sketches are little gems. They capture the characters of the book very well, particularly Pippi and her pets, Mr. Nilsson the monkey and the horse. I would recommend Pippi and the South Seas to both children and adults. Children will appreciate the joy of Pippi in her cheerful defiance to living a typical life, and adults will appreciate the nostalgia of a childhood classic. After reading Pippi and rediscovering the art of this book, I've decided to make Pippi the theme of my next sketchbook. I can't wait to see what artists do with this super fun subject matter!

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