The wild world of Pippi Longstocking
Kids love the spunky book character, who's from Sweden.
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But Pippi isn't the only book character Mrs. Lindgren created. In Russia, Karlsson-on-the-Roof is very popular. He's a man who secretly lives on the roof of a family's home – and he can fly. In Sweden, Emil, a young prankster, is a favorite.Skip to next paragraph
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Mrs. Lindgren's books have sold over 145 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 80 languages. Pippi stories alone have been printed in more than 50 languages! Mrs. Lindgren's tales have been made into dozens of movies and TV shows. She even read some of them aloud on Swedish radio.
Celebrating Astrid Lindgren
Mrs. Lindgren won many awards during her lifetime. In 1958, she received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, one of the highest distinctions for a children's book writer. In 1967, the Rabén & Sjögren publishing company created the Astrid Lindgren Prize in her honor. It's awarded to a children's author every year on her birthday.
After Mrs. Lindgren passed away in 2002, the Swedish government founded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). The ALMA is given not only to authors, but to illustrators, narrators, and promoters of reading.
In 2006, the ALMA winner was an American, Katherine Paterson. She is the author of "Bridge to Terabithia" and "The Great Gilly Hopkins," among others. In a lecture she gave after accepting the prize, she said she was amused to find that she had something in common with Mrs. Lindgren. Both of them had been uncertain about becoming writers because they didn't want to add bad books to the world. That worry turned out to unfounded in both cases!
What really impresses Ms. Paterson about the people of Sweden is that they have made a national hero of Mrs. Lindgren – someone who is not a movie star, a sports figure, a rock musician, or a victor in battle, but who became famous simply for writing books that kids love to read.
When it came time for the 2007 ALMA winner to be announced, Ms. Paterson waited by her computer, hoping the award would go to Banco del Libro. Her wish came true. Banco del Libro won. It's a Venezuelan organization that brings books and reading to children and teens.
Banco del Libro's work is truly in the spirit of Astrid Lindgren. She believed that "all the great things that have happened in the world first took place in a person's imagination, and it will largely depend on the imagination of those who are just learning to read right now what tomorrow's world will be like."
The 2008 ALMA winner is Australian author Sonya Hartnett. She had her first book published when she was 15, and since then, she’s written 18 novels for kids, young people, and adults. [Editor's note: The original version misidentified when her first book was written.]
Mrs. Lindgren made a big difference in Sweden and the world because she got children excited about reading by writing books they adored. One day a stranger pressed a note into her hand that read, "Thanks for brightening up a gloomy childhood."
She said later, "That's enough for me. If I've been able to brighten a single gloomy childhood, then I'm satisfied."