Book Review of Pippi Goes On Board by Astrid Lindgren

Thorough book review of Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren ~ What My Kids Read Pippi goes on Board is the second book about Pippi Longstocking. Once again, she has unpredictable and outrageous adventures that her friends, Tommy and Annika, are shocked and thrilled to go along with. It is very similar to the first book, Pippi Longstocking, which I reviewed here. It would be a great read-aloud, since every chapter has funny stories that many ages would enjoy.

There was a movie based on this book, made in the 1960s. We have not seen it.

Parents should be aware that Pippi makes some bad choices that would be deadly for a normal child. She mixes medicine together and drinks it – saying they will find out if it is poisonous if she dies from it. Another time, she carries a pistol and shoots it into the air for fun several times. She also talks quite a bit about cannibals (her father is the king of some cannibals and returns to take her back to the island). Pippi and her father lie, or tell tall tales. They talk about practicing their lying, as if it was a skill that needed to be worked on.

Also, I read the version translated by Florence Lamborn. Other translations might have different language. I read one review of the book that mentioned Pippi’s father was the king of the negroes. In this translation, it is cannibals (which is disturbing to me to think those words are translated from the same word in these books!).

The message of this book is that imagination brings fun to life – and there is more than one way to look at a situation.

My Mom-Meter gives Pippi Goes on Board an overall safety rating of 1 (Safe) for ages 6 and up.

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Click here to skip to Paul’s review of this book

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Category ratings (click on the category to see specifics):

Alcohol/DrugsSafe - no actual four-letter words

BullyingSafe - no actual four-letter words

Disrespectful AttitudesSafe - no actual four-letter words

GamblingSafe - no actual four-letter words

Gross BehaviorSafe - no actual four-letter words

LanguageSafe - no actual four-letter words

Magic/SupernaturalSafe - no actual four-letter words

MoralityModerately Safe

Romance/SexSafe - no actual four-letter words

Scary ThemesSafe - no actual four-letter words

ViolenceSafe - no actual four-letter words

 

Plot summary of Pippi Goes on Board: ***Contains Spoilers***

The book starts out with Pippi still living at Ville Villekulla. She goes shopping with Tommy and Annika, using some of the gold coins from her father’s suitcase, buying a mannequin arm, pounds and pounds of candy, toys, and medicine. She gives candy and toys to all the children in the village, then mixes a bunch of medicines together and drinks the concoction. She says if it’s poisonous, she will die and they can use the potion as furniture polish.

Another day, she writes a letter to herself and finds out that Tommy and Annika’s school is going on a picnic. Pippi goes with the school on the picnic and pretends to be a Monster, playing with the kids. She then stops a man who was whipping a horse. She throws the man in the air over and over, carries the horse home, ripped the whip to bits, and then carried the wagon home herself. The man is shocked and shaken up, and Pippi tells him never to whip the horse again. Then, Pippi shows her bad manners at a garden party, and the teacher tries to correct her.

Later, Pippi, Tommy, and Annika go to the Fair, and Pippi shows off her sharpshooting at the shooting gallery, spend an hour on the merry-go-round, and watch a play that Pippi takes so seriously, she has to be asked to leave. They end up at the menagerie, Pippi puts a boa constrictor on her neck that tries to kill her (but she is too strong) and a tiger escapes. Pippi conquers the tiger and locks it up again, and then settles an angry man who is stealing.

Pippi decides that she, Tommy, and Annika should be shipwrecked. Tommy and Annika’s parents leave town for a few days, and leave Ella the maid in charge. The children convince Ella that they will be fine without her, so she leaves to visit her mother. Pippi, Tommy, and Annika have a lovely two days on an island in a lake. After two days, Tommy and Annika are sad, but they need to go home so that their parents will not be worried. There are some worried moments when they realized that they are actually shipwrecked and cannot leave the island. Pippi finally remembers that she had carried the boat onto the island so that it would not get rained on, and they all go home.

When Pippi has lived at Ville Villekulla a full year, her father comes home. He is now a “Cannibal King,” and plans to take Pippi back with him to be a cannibal princess half the year and sail the seas the rest of the year. Pippi has a farewell party and invites everyone to say goodbye. They play music and a “Follow the Leader” game, and eat lots of food. Tommy and Annika are very sad that Pippi is leaving. When Pippi boards the ship to leave with her father, she sees Annika and Tommy crying, and she cannot stand it. So, she stays at Ville Villekulla, which is a more stable life for a child anyway. The book ends with yet another one of Pippi’s wild stories.

Potential Discussion Points for Parents in Pippi Goes on Board:

  • Pippi had never been able to understand “why children should go to bed at seven.” You might want to talk with your child about why you have chosen their bedtime.
  • Pippi tells a woman selling a freckles potion, “I don’t suffer from freckles… I love them.” you might want to talk with your kids about the importance of accepting yourself the way you are – and celebrating what makes you unique.
  • Pippi mixes up 8 different medicines and drinks it. She is not sick. You might want to talk with your children about the danger of taking medicine when you are not sick.
  • The children find a dead bird. “It had fallen out of the nest and killed itself.” Pippi cries and says “If I could, I’d bring you to life again.” Have you ever found a dead animal, and felt that way? You might want to talk with your kids about what your family believes about death.
  • Pippi has terrible manners. The Teacher says she needs to improve her manners if she wants to be a fine lady. You might want to talk with your kids about why manners are important.
  • Ella the maid leaves Tommy and Annika home alone for two days, after they promise to be good. Did Ella make a wise decision? Was she a trustworthy servant to Tommy and Annika’s parents?
  • Pippi’s father is a “cannibal king.” You might want to talk with your child about what cannibals are.
  • Pippi lies throughout the book, telling tall tales. Annika says “It’s not nice to lie…Mommy says that.” Tommy responds “Pippi doesn’t really lie. She just lies for fun. She makes up things, don’t you understand, stupid?” What do you think about what Tommy said? Is there a difference between lying and telling tall tales?
  • Pippi really wants to be a pirate when she grows up. “We’ll plunder gold and jewels and precious stones and we’ll have a hiding place for our treasure way in a cave on a desert island in the Pacific Ocean, and three skeletons to watch the cave. We’ll have a flag with a skull and crossbones, and we’ll sing ‘Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest’ so that you can hear it from one end of the Atlantic to the other, and all seafaring men will turn pale when they hear us and think about throwing themselves into the sea to avoid our bloody, bloody revenge.” You might want to talk with your kids about what pirates really were/are.
  • When Pippi decides to stay at Ville Villekulla, Captain Longstocking says “Do as you like, you always have done that.” Is Captain Longstocking being a good father to Pippi? Should a child always do as they like?

Alcohol/Drugs:

  • At the candy store, Pippi orders “chocolate cigarettes.”
  • There is a man who is super horrible when he is drunk on ale. He has lots of ale, and then steals a bunch of sausages. Pippi stops him and makes him pay for them.
  • Pippi sings the pirate song “Yo ho ho! and a bottle of rum” twice.
  • Snuff is mentioned several times.
  • A cigar box is mentioned once.

Bullying:

  • A man is whipping a tired horse that is stuck. Pippi throws him in the air and tears up his whip.
  • There is a man, Laban, who bullies people when he is drunk. Pippi throws him in the air and straightens him out.

Disrespectful Attitudes:

  • Pippi says some disrespectful things unintentionally to Ulla’s mother at the garden party. She is very rude.
  • Pippi also is disrespectful to the woman at the shooing gallery when the woman is rude to them.

Gambling: None

Gross Behavior: None

Language:

  • “Dummy” is used as a term for a mannequin.
  • “Stupid” is used a few times.
  • Laban calls Pippi “Brat!” once.
  • “Hottentots” are mentioned a few times. This term is considered derogatory by some.

Magic/Supernatural:

  • Pippi says twice that she is as “rich as a troll.”
  • The school picnic is in”Monster’s Forest – probably Pippi thought because is was so monstrously beautiful.” When they stopped in a clearing, Pippi screams out “Come out now, all you monsters, and let’s see who is the strongest.” The teacher tells her there aren’t any monsters. “A Forest of Monsters without any monsters?… Oh, well, I’ll have to be a monster myself, I suppose.” Pippi pretends to be a monster, and the children all pretend to run away and be frightened. “Stupid, stupid Monster, stupid, stupid Monster!” They play the game a long time, and Pippi says “Now I’m going to cook you for dinner!”
  • The Teacher tells Pippi and the children, “We should always be kind to animals – and to people too, of course… That is why we are here.”
  • Snake charmers are mentioned several times.

Morality:

  • Pippi’s father is a “cannibal king.”
  • Pippi lies throughout the book, telling tall tales. Captain Longstocking asks her if she still lies, and Pippi replies “Yes, when I have time, but it isn’t very often.”
  • Captain Longstocking, who wasn’t “so backward about lying,” tells Pippi, “Well, I usually lie a little for the natives on Saturday nights, if they have behaved well during the week. We usually have a little lie-and-song evening, with accompaniment of drums and firelight dances. The more I lie, the harder they beat the drums.”
  • Annika says “It’s not nice to lie…Mommy says that.” Tommy responds “Pippi doesn’t really lie. She just lies for fun. She makes up things, don’t you understand, stupid?”

Potentially Offensive Behavior:

  • Ella the maid leaves Tommy and Annika home alone for two days, after they promise to be good.
  • Captain Longstocking beats on a drum, and Tommy says it sounds “Native-ish.”
  • “Just think a cannibal princess!…Oh, I’ll be so fine, I’ll have rings in my ears and a little larger ring in my nose. ” Pippi then says she will wear “not another thing, never anything else.”

Romance/Sex: None

Scary Themes: 

  • The children find a dead bird. “It had fallen out of the nest “
  • Pippi, Tommy, and Annika go to a show at the Fair called “The Murder of the Countess Aurora or Who’s Sneaking around in the Bushes.”
  • Pippi puts a boa constrictor on her neck, and it tries to choke her. She is stronger than the snake.
  • A tiger gets out at the menagerie, and it attacks Pippi, intending to bite her throat. She is stronger than the tiger and puts it back in the cage.
  • Pippi talks about cannibals a lot when they are “shipwrecked.” “You can never be careful enough. What would be the use of saving yourself from drowning only to be served with stewed vegetables for a cannibals dinner… Or perhaps they are sitting looking through their cookbooks, to learn how they could cook us.”
  • Pippi really wants to be a pirate when she grows up. “We’ll plunder gold and jewels and precious stones and we’ll have a hiding place for our treasure way in a cave on a desert island in the Pacific Ocean, and three skeletons to watch the cave. We’ll have a flag with a skull and crossbones, and we’ll sing ‘Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest’ so that you can hear it from one end of the Atlantic to the other, and all seafaring men will turn pale when they hear us and think about throwing themselves into the sea to avoid our bloody, bloody revenge.”

Violence:

  • Pippi buys cap pistols and a popgun at the toy store.
  • A man whips a tired horse that is stuck. The man says “Don’t interfere with what doesn’t concern you. Otherwise it might just happen tha I’ll give you a taste of the whip too, the whole lot of you.” He whips so hard in anger, Pippi stops him by throwing him up in the air. She tells him that she threatened to scratch and claw a man’s uniform that was mean to his horse, and she implies that she had followed up on the threat. Pippi adds that she would hate to have to do it to this man too.
  • Pippi says that she really ought to whip the man with his whip, but the whip is worn out, so she tears it to pieces.
  • Pippi, Tommy, and Annika go to a shooting gallery at the Fair. A man brags about what a good shot he is, but misses most of them. Pippi then shows off how well she can shoot.
  • Laban, the mean drunk, says “I’ll bash in the head of the first one who moves!”
  • Pippi carries her pistol when they decide to get shipwrecked. She fires it a few times, and reassured Annika that she can use it to defend them from anything, even “a field mouse.”
  • Pippi and her father are very strong. They have a fight, throwing each other all over the house. They are not angry, just having fun.
  • Captain Longstocking says “I haven’t had so much fun since you and I got mixed up in that sailors’ fight in Singapore.”

From a seven-year-old’s perspective:

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Pippi Goes on Board

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Comments

  1. Pippi is just so whimsical and creative! She makes you think outside the box. Of course she is not to be copied although I did make a housecleaning schedule based on hers at one time :)

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