A mix of titles currently on my shelves.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pippi for Grown-Ups?

This will be my last post on Pippi. But I simply can’t leave Pippi behind without mentioning the connection between Pippi and another fictional Swedish heroine currently taking the world by storm: Lisbeth Salander in Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster “Millenium” series for adults (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest).

Larsson was interviewed by Lasse Winkler on October 27, 2004, just three weeks before Larsson’s unfortunate death and a few months before publication of the first book. Earlier this year, Winkler discussed their meeting and quoted Larsson (in English) for The Guardian:

“‘I considered Pippi Longstocking,’ he said...‘What would she be like today? What would she be like as an adult? What would you call a person like that, a sociopath? Hyperactive? Wrong. She simply sees society in a different light. I’ll make her 25 years old and an outcast. She has no friends and is deficient in social skills. That was my original thought.’ That thought evolved into Larsson’s formidable heroine, Lisbeth Salander.”

According to Winkler, Larsson chose another Astrid Lindgren character, Kalle Blomkvist, boy detective, upon which to base his character Mikael Blomkvist, the investigative journalist who becomes involved with Salander.

If you’ve read the books or seen the Swedish movies (Hollywood hasn’t come out with their version yet), you may have noticed another neat little nod to Astrid Lindgren and Pippi. In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Salander’s apartment is named V. Kulla – short for Villa Villakulla.

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it. Who says children’s books are "just kid stuff”? Maybe Larsson was a kid at heart, as I suspect most of us are.

The take-home lesson for me as a writer of children's books is this: never underestimate the impact of your stories. You never know how they may live on.  

Pippi's house, Villa Villakulla, at Junibacken
in Stockholm.

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