Some books are just an intrinsic part of the warp and weft of our family life, woven in with the years of raising children.Books and films completely embedded in our consciousness forever.
One little character who was responsible for more than the average amount of anarchy and mayhem here was Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and probably one of the reasons we have three free spirits who still keep us completely on our toes.Life is never predictable.
In need of a light moment before my final assault on the Booker longlist reviews over the next few days and before shortlist day on Thursday, I was in raptures to find a copy of the latest edition of Pippi Longstocking in the post from Oxford University Press with illustrations by Lauren Child.
Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola series a very firm favourite in my office with all the little people who come in to see me.I have to keep constantly up to date with whatever language the pre-school children are speaking. It was Balamory for ages and Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Postman Pat seem to be eternal. It's good because I can still say our favourite Fireman Sam line in that Welsh accent, "Don't dither in the doorway Norman", and be understood.
So as Pippi arrived in the post so did the Kayaker (not in the post, with his washing) and seize it he did because Pippi appealed to the boys as much as the girls here. I doubt he's the target audience for this book but we had a good laugh over his namesake Tommy, and Annika and all those wonderful adventures.The film added to the joy and we can all still sing the theme tune and often do.
I'm sure other families do the same.
On those rare occasions when we are all together it only takes one word to start the whole thing off and we are all singing like crazy, it's good not to have neighbours at moments like this.
Pippi deserves to be re-presented to every new generation of children, she is timeless and still as funny today as the day I first met her as a child and since my children met her.This edition works so well with Lauren Child's illustrations and I particularly love the fact that Pippi's stockings are actually knitted.It all cleverly bridges any divide there may be between a book first published as Pippi Langstrump in 1945 and the world of children's literature today.
The text has magical variations of size and shape and plenty of nicely unusual moments
"Pippi set off up the street. She walked with one foot on the pavement and the other in the gutter. Tommy and Annika fixed their eyes on her for as long as they could see her. After a while she came back Now she was walking sdrawkcab That was so she didn't have to turn around when she came home."
The word backwards is also mirror-imaged, which typepad wouldn't let me do, but it all adds to the allure of the book, as does the lime gree ribbon bookmark, and offers plenty to talk about with children.I'm also completely in agreement with Pippi that pluttification tables are torture and that I too would have shortened my name to Pippi if I'd been called Pippilotta Comestibles Windowshade Curlymint Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking.
Now I'm not sure this is a particularly good PR pic and the Kayaker can but hope that all his mates don't see it, (I won't tell if you don't) but I love that grin because all our children had grins like this and twenty years on this was exactly the one that would be on his face as you yelled "Thomaaaas come here".
Then as sternly as you could manage you'd try to berate him for cutting his sister's hair "because it looked a mess" or burying her Barbie doll "because it had died" or pulling up a neighbour's onions "because I wanted to see what they looked like" or climbing on the shed roof "because it was there" or...or...and it was all hopeless.
Why don't they brush their hair anymore? It used to look so lovely with a nice side parting.