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A Rebel in Pigtails

Pippi Longstocking’s creator, at 100.

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Way back before tweens posted sassy jpegs on Facebook, a piece of poo burst into song on South Park, and Bart Simpson told the world to eat his shorts, parents found it shocking to read a children’s book about an obstinate, parentless girl. “Pippi Longstocking was a big outrage. A child living on her own and behaving not very nicely! She makes mischief—that was kind of a new thing then. People loved it, but many of the critics and cultural commentators felt This can’t be healthy,” says Anders Steinwall, a parish assistant at the Swedish Church, referring to author Astrid Lindgren’s most (in)famous character. Lindgren would have been 100 this year, and in her honor, the Scandinavia House is hosting an Astrid Lindgren Family Concert directed by the Swedish Church’s music maven—and Anders’s wife— Kristina Sturk Steinwall. (Anders speaks better English than Kristina does, so he does the talking.) The concert will star children portraying Pippi as well as other Lindgren characters who aren’t as well-known in America, like Karlsson on the Roof, “a middle-aged, rather round man who happens to have a propeller on his back and lives on the roofs in Stockholm,” Anders says. There’s also Madicken, based on Lindgren’s childhood friend, and Ronja, the daughter of thieves. Most of Lindgren’s tales have been turned into films or television series over the years. As luck would have it, the accompanying music, which will be played at the Family Concert, was done by Swedish jazz composers like Georg Riedel, Ivan Renliden, and Jan Johansson. “It’s kids’ songs,” explains Anders, who will play the piano under his wife’s direction, “but you can tell that it has been written by good musicians.”

10/13, 1 p.m. Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave., nr. 38th St. (212-847-9740 or scandinaviahouse.org); $10 adults, $8 members, $5 kids under 12. Advance registration required.


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