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Pippi in the South Seas: 07/13/13

cover art

Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren is the last of the original Pippi novels. There were later some comics or picture books, which I haven't read.

Pippi is the prototype of many of my favorite female characters. Anytime you see a red-head young woman who has the confidence and strength of ten men and seems capable of doing anything and quite possibly rescuing the world, she's probably a Pippi.

A modern day Pippi, I would argue, is Clara Oswin Oswald — the impossible girl. She has what it takes to make people do things and she can hack her way through any situation or any computer.

Now sure — Amy Pond did (at least in one timeline) live by herself — but it wasn't by choice and she wasn't happy doing it. She waited. She's known as The girl who waited. The Pippis of the world never wait unless they want to.

Pippi might let you rescue her, but that's only because she thinks you need know that you can rescue someone. Were you to fail, she'd rescue herself, and then you.

So in this book, Pippi decides it's high time to visit her father. He's no longer a prisoner but he has pretty much given up being a pirate, deciding instead to live in the South Seas among a group of islanders.

To make the adventure all the more memorable, Pippi convinces the parents of her best friends to let them go with her. This trip means missing Christmas with the family (or at least delaying it) and possibly missing some school. Pippi, though, has that bravado to her that makes her ever so convincing.

As with the other two novels, the chapters are basically episodic tales of sheer Pippi mayhem. Pippi makes friends on the island. She learns from them and teaches the island children a thing or two.

And then, at long last it's time to go home. But Pippi has one last trick up her sleeves — a promise of a forever childhood. For her, it's a pill, a ritual and a short spell. For Clara — it's a leaf of faith (pun intended). For Radical Edward — she's probably copied herself into the computer network. Pippi transcends and continues to inspire.

Five stars

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