Way out at the end of a tiny little town was an old overgrown garden, and in the garden was an old house, and in the house lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone. She had no mother and no father, and that was of course very nice because there was no one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the most fun, and no one who could make her take cod liver oil when she much preferred caramel candy.
Pippi Longstocking. A forever classic and a book that, along with Brian Jacques’ Redwall and Roald Dahl’s Matilda, encapsulates childhood for me, and even thousands of others. The rollicking, carefree, care-filled, complex elasticity of childhood where there aren’t any lines or boundaries, where everything is immensely fluid, adventure lasts forever, umbrellas, apples, rain, chocolate, Caribbean islands, forgotten gardens, and old cupboards are equally magical and the most ordinary thing can turn into pure gold. Pippi is purest adventure in its purest form, in the same way Redwall is warmth, Matilda is cleverness, and The Secret Garden is magic.
Unstoppable, redheaded Pippi Longstocking lives alone in a tiny town, eats whatever she likes without ever getting a stomachache, and teams up with the children next door to go on wild adventures that include pirates and islands and everything a child, or adult’s heart, could dream. Own this book my loves. Go buy it on Amazon for 6 bucks (edition pictured above because this girl did). And if you haven’t read it yet, buy it, read on a long winter day after another day of office work, or on a slow humid summer day when the island seems to fall out of the pages of the book into your lap. Read, and love.
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Brian Jacques. Jane Austen. J.R.R. Tolkein. Roald Dahl. C.S. Lewis. Alistair MacLean. Louis L’Amour. Rainbow Rowell.
That’s my short list of authors who gave me that jolt of pure, unadulterated joy that obliterates the rest of the world, makes you feel you’ve found a spiritual/mental soulmate, and makes you want to track them down and knock down their door or call them up and have long conversations about everything and nothing and find out their opinion about the world and politics in that one corner of the world and how they like their tea.
“From then on, Matilda would visit the library only once a week in order to take out new books and return the old ones. Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her. She was not quite tall enough to reach things around in the kitchen, but she kept a small box in the outhouse which she brought in and stood on in order to get whatever she wanted. Mostly it was hot chocolate she made, warming the milk in a saucepan on the stove before mixing it. Occasionally she made Bovril or Ovaltine. It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She traveled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
-Roald Dahl, Matilda