"Pippi Moves In" by Astrid Lindgren and Ingrid Van Ny man (Drawn and Quarterly)
The homeschool movement, particularly the unschooling sector, could do worse than to officially choose Pippi Long stocking as their figurehead. The young Swedish upstart has never truly been unseated as the ultimate anti-hero kid, a real rebellious wunderkind who makes mincemeat out of adults with her own whirligig style of logic.
Though mostly remembered in chapter books -- and, to a lesser degree, some oddball movies -- this book is the first volume of three to collect Pippi comics, which featured stories adapted from the books and appearing in the Swedish children’s magazine Humpty Dump ty in the late 1950s. Writ er Lindgren was famously Pip pi’s creator, and cartoonist Van Nyman was also the original illustrator on the book series.
The comic version has a surprising effect -- it strips down the Pippi stories to their es sence, an almost slapstick tornado of absurdism on par with the Marx Brothers. Pippi is con stant ly disarming the establishment as she mangles their words -- who could forget "plutification" -- and talks circles around authority figures like teachers, policemen, shop owners and more. Pippi positively bursts from the pages and gears up to demonstrate to your daughters what the exercising of girl power really looks like -- complete with pointy pigtails.
Scandinavian book and com ic characters the Moomins have only recently crossed over to North America in a series of lovingly-published collections out of Canada which point to their decades-long devoted following -- their first appearance was in 1945 -- and successful expansion into film and television. It’s a long legacy for all of us to catch-up with.
Canadian publishers Drawn And Quarterly are doing their part first with the successful black and white collections, but now with these new editions, which add color to the strips, contain individual stories in separate volumes and format them in a child-friendly package. It’s certainly a gamble -- the purists could easily turn their nose at such a venture, while something that old could prove too outdated for kids these days.
Both camps will find something to love here, though, and this effort should make the Moomins more of a household name in the U.S. and Canada, as they deserve to be.
The coloring is understated, which helps the books retain the feeling of the originals, while still adding an otherworldly quality to the Moo mins’ landscape. It’s a warm realization that results in something both cozy and surprising, and it helps make the temperament of the strips seem modern without transforming them into something they are not.
In "Moomin Valley Turns Jungle," the Moomin’s home is overtaken by crazy tropical plants when a heat wave coincides with exotic seeds being uncovered at sea. "Moomin’s Win ter Follies" goes the opposite direction and has the family dealing with not only their first winter, but the most terrifying aspect of that season, winter sports and their enthusiasts.
Jansson was a playful hu morist, and never talked down to her audience. Her jokes and situations often border on the absurd, but also double as social parody in a way that should please adults and kids. All too often lost gems are proclaimed, but Jansson’s work on the Moo mins really deserves that exclamation, and this new series presenting them in a wonderful new light is must-reading, regardless of your age.