This summer, every Monday and Wednesday, I am hosting a series of guest posts here on my blog called Middle Grade Memories. In this series, authors, agents, librarians, and editors talk about their favorite childhood middle grade books. I’m beyond thrilled to share their middle grade memories with you.
Read on as Nikki talks about one of her favorite childhood middle grade books, Pippi Longstocking. Then check out the giveaway!
I could never get my hair to stand out in pigtails like hers, and I sure as heck couldn’t lift my horse over my head with one hand, but after reading Pippi Longstocking when I was eight, I slept upside down in my bed for a good long while, trying to be her in whatever way I could.
Ah, Pippi. A nine-year-old superstrong girl, she was the child of a cannibal king, living on her own in Villa Villekulla (even saying it was fun. I used to murmur it under my breath as I read), next door to her friends brave Tommy and party-pooper Annika. Pippi always had a thrilling story to tell.
And she wasn’t afraid. Did she know how to be? When officious, oblivious adults would come calling, she would send them running away, tails between their legs.
She was everything I wished I could be as a child: brave, strong, able to protect herself and others and laugh at danger. Even if I felt more like Annika, reading Pippi’s sometimes hair-raising stories and muttering “Watch out!” I wouldn’t have changed that spunky little redhead for the world.
She was my hero. I would have given anything to have her courage and strength, even for a day.
I can’t remember how I found her. Probably Mrs. Crabb, my elementary school librarian, put her into my hands. Mrs. Crabb was always choosing, like truly excellent librarians do, the perfect book for the children who came in hungrier for books than they ever had been for food. She fed my spirit with amazing literature, heaping my arms high with books. Mrs. Crabb delighted in books, and taught me that there were people in the world who loved them as much as I did – even if I didn’t have many friends my age who were addicted to reading like I was.
I still love Pippi. I read all the Pippi books as a child, and grew up hoping to taste breadfruit, wishing I could climb a coconut tree and eat the sweet white meat for breakfast on a sandy beach. When my sons got old enough to listen, I read Pippi aloud to them every night for weeks, delighting in their laughter, their gasps when she tried to go to school and failed (but not miserably; Pippi was never miserable). Bedtimes became a thing of the past; when there is another chapter that must be read, who can turn off the lights? Pippi would never have stopped a good story right in the middle. We could do no less.
I wondered if Pippi would mean as much to my boys as it had to me. I’m not sure it could! Pippi had been my first role model, in enough real ways that I had gotten in trouble quite a bit at school for emulating her matter-of-fact way of speaking truth to power. Still, I did find my oldest son sleeping upside down the night after we finished the first book, and my little one harassed me for coconuts at the grocery store for years after.
I hope I’ve hidden a little of Pippi’s strength in my characters, and maybe some of her honesty and sense of fun. The world needs more books like Pippi Longstocking, and always will.
I think, someday, I will take my grandchildren to an island and try breadfruit. Maybe even crack open a coconut. I think Pippi would approve.
Nikki Loftin lives with her Scottish photographer husband just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, chickens, and small, loud boys. They don’t have a monkey or a horse… yet. Her middle-grade novel, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, will debut on August 21, 2012. You can visit her online at www.nikkiloftin.com.
To celebrate Nikki’s post, she is generously giving away an ARC of her book, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, as well as some Sinister Sweetness stickers and bookmarks!
A bit about Sinister Sweetness:
When Lorelei’s old school mysteriously burns down, a new one appears practically overnight: Splendid Academy. Rock-climbing walls on the playground and golden bowls of candy on every desk? Gourmet meals in the cafeteria, served by waiters? Optional homework and two recess periods a day? It’s every kids’s dream.
But Lorelei and her new friend Andrew are pretty sure it’s too good to be true. Together they uncover a sinister mystery, one with their teacher, the beautiful Ms. Morrigan, at the very center.
Then Andrew disappears. Lorelei has to save him, even if that means facing a past she’d like to forget – and taking on a teacher who’s a real witch.
What Lorelei and Andrew discover chills their bones – and might even pick them clean!
To win this ARC, simply comment below and tell us about your experience with Pippi Longstocking. Have you read and loved this book? How did it influence you? What are your middle grade memories?
For an extra entry, tweet about this post and include the link to your tweet in your comment.
This giveaway begins now and ends Monday, July 16 at 11:59 a.m. EST. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter. This giveaway is U.S./Canada only.
Edited 7/23: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner . . .
Thank you to all commenters, and thanks to all who read this post. Stay tuned for more Middle Grade Memories posts and giveaways throughout the summer!
Love Middle Grade Memories? Check back on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the summer for more in this series!
You can view previous Middle Grade Memories posts below:
- author Marissa Burt and Where the Red Fern Grows
- author Sarvenaz Tash and The Witches
- author Jay Kristoff and The Hobbit
- author Adam-Troy Castro and Dr. Dolittle
- author Greg Leitich Smith and The Enormous Egg
- librarian Rita Meade and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- author Cristin Terrill and The Baby-Sitters Club
- author Phoebe North and A Swiftly Tilting Planet
- editor Jordan Hamessley and The Egypt Game
- agent Suzie Townsend and The Westing Game
- author Lauren Billings and Howl’s Moving Castle
- editor Zareen Jaffery and The Secret Garden