Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Welcome Back to Villa Villekulla!

I've embarked on a bold experiment as of late: I'm re-reading some classic children's chapter books that I loved when I was younger.

It's a little scary because there's a chance that I won't love these books on this go-round and that my memories of cherished stories will be forever tainted. I just finished one the other day that didn't thrill me like it did when I was a child. The protagonist's misadventures were so predictable to my adult mind, and I couldn't help but notice all the things that were perfectly acceptable in a 1950s-era book that just wouldn't fly today. So I was a little hesitant to re-read my beloved Pippi Longstocking for fear that it might tarnish my childhood memories.

But guess what? It holds up!

I tried to analyze why. Astrid Lindgren doesn't use any type of super-fancy narrative techniques, after all. Chapter one doesn't begin with a catchy hook or dialogue; the first couple of paragraphs are straight-up exposition. But here's the thing: when you have a crazy-fun character like Pippi Longstocking who lives in a house like Villa Villekulla all by herself, with a suitcase full of gold from her cannibal king father, and a horse in the kitchen, and a sidekick monkey, there's pretty much no way you can go wrong in telling the story. With such an irresistible setting and main character, the story almost begs to tell itself.

I absolutely loved Pippi when I was a little girl, and I desperately wished I could live next door to her like Tommy and Annika did and have all sorts of kooky adventures at Villa Villekulla. 

I was afraid to try to go back to Villa Villekulla as a grown-up, but I'm so glad I did, because in doing so, my childhood wonder was reborn.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go back to being a Thing-Finder with my friends Pippi, Tommy, and Annika.

Ginger Rue is the author of the Aleca Zamm series from Aladdin and the Tig Ripley series from Sleeping Bear.

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