“I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking. How extraordinary it must be to never once feel constrained by the opinions of others. Now I am grown-up I know this is the single quality I would still give almost anything for.” – Lauren Child, former Waterstones Children’s Laureate
2020 marks 75 years since the publication of Sweden’s most famous literary export, Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, in 1945. Nine-year-old Pippi – originally created by the author for her daughter during the dark days of World War Two – was a new kind of children’s character: a free-spirited girl with superhuman strength who uses a powerful mix of anti-authoritarian thinking and kindness to challenge the status quo and to bring joy to the lives of those around her.
The iconic redhead has become a role model for generations, and an international bestseller – the Pippi Longstocking stories are amongst the most translated children’s books in the world, with over 70 million copies sold in 70 languages. She is regularly picked as a favourite children’s character and famous names to have been inspired by her include Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Cerys Matthews and even Stieg Larsson, who admitted his character Lisbeth Salander (The Millennium Trilogy) was directly influenced by Lindgren’s creation.
Over the course of 2020, UK audiences will have multiple opportunities to be introduced to and interact with ‘The Strongest Girl in the World’ through a charity partnership launched today, new books and storytelling events across the country, before Pippi appears on stage in Pippi at Cirkus – a musical circus executive produced by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, premiering in Stockholm in summer 2020 – and on the big screen in a new film adaptation from STUDIOCANAL and Heyday Films, the creators of Paddington 1 & 2, in the near future.
‘Pippi of Today’ partnership with Save The Children
Astrid Lindgren was a life-long campaigner for children’s rights, changing Swedish law on corporal punishment and advocating for children’s voices to be heard. Continuing this legacy, The Astrid Lindgren Company are collaborating with Save The Children to launch ‘Pippi of Today’, a global campaign to raise awareness and funds for the charity’s work for girls on the move. The number of girls on the move is at the highest it’s been since the end of the Second World War. Like Pippi, millions of girls are forced to leave their families and make homes in new cities and countries, and they are at greater risk of being exposed to violence and exploitation, such as sexual abuse and child marriage. In most cases, their education is also often put on hold. The campaign will tell the stories of 13 refugee girls over the course of the anniversary year, giving voice to their experiences and holding Pippi up as an empowering role model for strength, courage and hope in adversity. Biscuiteers, Design House Stockholm, Houdini Sportswear, Primus and Unilever are just some of the companies supporting the campaign with limited-edition Pippi products for 2020.
Lindgren’s long-term UK publisher will release six new, highly-illustrated editions of the Pippi stories during 2020: two chapter books, Meet Pippi Longstocking and Pippi Longstocking and the Snirkle Hunt (March 2020), featuring artwork from the original illustrator, Ingrid Vang Nyman; Pippi Longstocking, Pippi Longstocking Goes Aboard and Pippi Longstocking in the South Seas (May 2020), with black and white illustrations by Mini Grey, and a hardback gift edition of Pippi Longstocking Goes Aboard (October 2020), illustrated in full colour by former Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child.
Pippi Longstocking events around the UK
Acclaimed storyteller Danyah Miller (I Believe in Unicorns) will be touring the UK with her one-woman storytelling performance, Meet Pippi Longstocking, appearing at venues and festivals including the Imagine Children’s Festival (February 2020), British Library (March 2020) and the newly opened Story Museum (May 2020) during the first half of the year. In addition, Pippi Longstocking: A Swashbuckling Musical Adventure, adapted for the stage by Mike Akers with music by Stu Barker, will travel to York Theatre Royal in July 2020 whilst a pop-up exhibition is scheduled to appear at Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, East London, later in the summer. Further event details will be announced over the course of 2020.
Olle Nyman, CEO at The Astrid Lindgren Company and grandson of Astrid Lindgren, said: “We can’t wait for British audiences to experience the particular combination of wit, humanity, independence and flair that turned both Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Longstocking into icons.
“For us at the Astrid Lindgren Company, it is important to continue my grandmother’s fight for children’s rights. In a world with ever stronger currents of nationalism and xenophobia, we want to highlight our shared responsibility for all children in demonstrating their strength and potential. With the help of Pippi, we want to support the girls who need it most, while also making their voices heard. Save the Children’s activities aim to support them, while Pippi serves as an inspiring role model that gives them strength and hope.”
Inger Ashing, CEO at Save the Children International, adds: “Save the Children is excited to partner with the Astrid Lindgren Company to help expand our work for girls on the move. In 2019, we interviewed girls from around the world who are on the move to better understand their experiences and how we can best reach them with the right efforts. But we still lack sufficient data and knowledge in this area. With the funds raised, we will be able to help fill these knowledge gaps and expand our work, so that every girl survives, learns and is protected.”