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Little Willow
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Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren - New Viking Edition

Over sixty years ago, Astrid Lindgren wrote stories about Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump for her daughter. In 1945, the book Pippi Longstocking was published in Sweden. Five years later, it was published in the USA. Several additional stories followed. In 2007, one hundred years after Lindgren was born, Viking released a new edition of Pippi Longstocking, with a new translation by Tiina Nunnally and new illustrations by Lauren Child.

I really enjoyed this edition. I liked the original novels by Astrid Lindgren when I was younger, and I haven't revisited them in decades, so this was a nice piece of escapism on a Sunday morning.

I appreciate the work that went into this book. Translating is never easy, especially when it comes to artistic endeavors such as stories, lyrics, and poems, which are dependent upon language, word choices, and meter. I salute Tiina Nunnally for translating something so close to the original. If two translators both use the same adjectives, chances are, that's what the original author did write (or intend, or infer, or - I'll be quiet now, because that's another discussion about translations and literal interpretations vs. intentions!)

I have read many of Lauren Child's books and have come to embrace her style. She uses pieces and patches to create her collages and pictures, an interesting combination of photography and illustration. (See my separate post about Lauren Child's works.) I think the illustrations in this edition are adorable AND match the text. See a picture of Pippi and Mr. Nilsson.

This edition also gets kudos for its typesetting. Most of it is straightforward, but every so often - just often enough without being too often - there's a sentence or two that runs backwards or sideways, or there's a bold word or two. This too is Child's style. In this particular book, one of my favorite restructured lines is a sentence about Mr. Nilsson's tail that is actually shaped like a tail. That makes me happy because I like emblematic verse. (You can thank Charles Dodgson for that, because I was first exposed to emblematic verse in his book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. You can see The Mouse's Tale as it was meant to be seen/read here.)

Since I am an über nerd, I decided to compare the first chapter of the new edition of Pippi Longstocking to the Oxford Children's Modern Classics edition. I read it line by line, then re-read it paragraph by paragraph. The text of the two editions are remarkably similar, with the biggest differences in the first chapter being Pippi's song about the pancakes and the name of the monkey. In the Oxford edition, he is Mr. Nelson; in the new edition, he has been restored to his proper Swedish name, Mr. Nilsson.

This book was nominated for the 2007 Cybils Awards in the middle grade category. However, the rules of the awards require nominated titles to be new works published in English during the nomination year. Though the Cybils permits translations, there's a difference between new works and revamped older works. Were this an original sequel to Pippi Longstocking, a new story based on original characters, that would be eligible in my book. This would be like the new stories Harriet the Spy (though, admittedly, I've yet to read those). Were this a new retelling of a story that was a new work and reinvented the story, like Just Ella did for Cinderella, that would be eligible too. But since this new version of Pippi matches older editions nearly word-for-word (again, kudos to Tiina Nunnally), we couldn't call it a wholly new work and couldn't consider it for the awards.

I could, however, read it this morning and feel six years old again. Kudos again to Tiina Nunnally for translating the original text and to Viking for giving readers a new edition of Pippi to read, to share, and to treasure. If Viking/Nunnally/Child offer editions of the other Pippi books, I will certainly read those as well.

Bonus Link: Visit The Longstockings, a group of authors who named themselves after Pippi!
Tags: books, cybils, longstockings, reviews
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