Pippi Moves into Villa Villekulla
Way out at the end of a tiny little town was an old overgrown garden,
and in the garden was an old house, and in the house lived Pippi
Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone. She
had no mother and no father, and that was of course very nice because
there was no one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the
most fun, and no one who could make her take cod liver oil when she much
preferred caramel candy.
Once upon a time Pippi had had a father of whom she was extremely fond.
Naturally she had had a mother too, but that was so long ago that Pippi
didn't remember her at all. Her mother had died when Pippi was just a
tiny baby and lay in a cradle and howled so that nobody could go
anywhere near her. Pippi was sure that her mother was now up in Heaven,
watching her little girl through a peephole in the sky, and Pippi often
waved up at her and called, "Don't you worry about me. I'll always come
out on top."
Pippi had not forgotten her father. He was a sea captain who sailed on
the great ocean, and Pippi had sailed with him in his ship until one day
her father was blown overboard in a storm and disappeared. But Pippi was
absolutely certain that he would come back. She would never believe that
he had drowned; she was sure he had floated until he landed on an island
inhabited by cannibals. And she thought he had become the king of all
the cannibals and went around with a golden crown on his head all day
"My papa is a cannibal king; it certainly isn't every child who has such
a stylish papa," Pippi used to say with satisfaction. "And as soon as my
papa has built himself a boat he will come and get me, and I'll be a
cannibal princess. Heigh-ho, won't that be exciting?"
Her father had bought the old house in the garden many years ago. He
thought he would live there with Pippi when he grew old and couldn't
sail the seas any longer. And then this annoying thing had to happen,
that he was blown into the ocean, and while Pippi was waiting for him to
come back she went straight home to Villa Villekulla. That was the name
of the house. It stood there ready and waiting for her. One lovely
summer evening she had said good-by to all the sailors on her father's
boat. They were all fond of Pippi, and she of them.
"So long, boys," she said and kissed each one on the forehead. "Don't
you worry about me. I'll always come out on top."
Two things she took with her from the ship: a little monkey whose name
was Mr. Nilsson-he was a present from her father-and a big suitcase full
of gold pieces. The sailors stood upon the deck and watched as long as
they could see her. She walked straight ahead without looking back at
all, with Mr. Nilsson on her shoulder and her suitcase in her hand.
"A remarkable child," said one of the sailors as Pippi disappeared in
He was right. Pippi was indeed a remarkable child. The most remarkable
thing about her was that she was so strong. She was so very strong that
in the whole wide world there was not a single police officer as strong
as she. Why, she could lift a whole horse if she wanted to! And she
wanted to. She had a horse of her own that she had bought with one of
her many gold pieces the day she came home to Villa Villekulla. She had
always longed for a horse, and now here he was, living on the porch.
When Pippi wanted to drink her afternoon coffee there, she simply lifted
him down into the garden.
Beside Villa Villekulla was another garden and another house. In that
house lived a father and mother and two charming children, a boy and a
girl. The boy's name was Tommy and the girl's Annika. They were good,
well brought up, and obedient children. Tommy would never think of
biting his nails, and he always did exactly what his mother told him to
do. Annika never fussed when she didn't get her own way, and she always
looked pretty in her little well-ironed cotton dresses; she took the
greatest care not to get them dirty. Tommy and Annika played nicely with
each other in their garden, but they had often wished for a playmate.
While Pippi was still sailing on the ocean with her father, they often
used to hang over the fence and say to each other, "Isn't it silly that
nobody ever moves into that house. Somebody ought to live there-somebody
On that lovely summer evening when Pippi for the first time stepped over
the threshold of Villa Villekulla, Tommy and Annika were not at home.
They had gone to visit their grandmother for a week; and so they had no
idea that anybody had moved into the house next door. On the first day
after they came home again they stood by the gate, looking out onto the
street, and even then they didn't know that there actually was a
playmate so near. Just as they were standing there considering what they
should do and wondering whether anything exciting was likely to happen
or whether it was going to be one of those dull days when they couldn't
think of anything to play-just then the gate of Villa Villekulla opened
and a little girl stepped out. She was the most remarkable girl Tommy
and Annika had ever seen. She was Miss Pippi Longstocking out for her
morning promenade. This is the way she looked:
Her hair, the color of a carrot, was braided in two tight braids that
stuck straight out. Her nose was the shape of a very small potato and
was dotted all over with freckles. It must be admitted that the mouth
under this nose was a very wide one, with strong white teeth. Her dress
was rather unusual. Pippi herself had made it. She had meant it to be
blue, but there wasn't quite enough blue cloth, so Pippi had sewed
little red pieces on it here and there. On her long thin legs she wore a
pair of long stockings, one brown and the other black, and she had on a
pair of black shoes that were exactly twice as long as her feet. These
shoes her father had bought for her in South America so that Pippi would
have something to grow into, and she never wanted to wear any others.
But the thing that made Tommy and Annika open their eyes widest of all
was the monkey sitting on the strange girl's shoulder. It was a little
monkey, dressed in blue pants, yellow jacket, and a white straw hat.
Pippi walked along the street with one foot on the sidewalk and the
other in the gutter. Tommy and Annika watched as long as they could see
her. In a little while she came back, and now she was walking backward.
That was because she didn't want to turn around to get home. When she
reached Tommy's and Annika's gate she stopped.
The children looked at each other in silence. At last Tommy spoke. "Why
did you walk backward?"
"Why did I walk backward?" said Pippi. "Isn't this a free country? Can't
a person walk any way she wants to? For that matter, let me tell you
that in Egypt everybody walks that way, and nobody thinks it's the least
"How do you know?" asked Tommy. "You've never been in Egypt, have you?"
"I've never been in Egypt? Indeed I have. That's one thing you can be
sure of. I have been all over the world and seen many things stranger
than people walking backward. I wonder what you would have said if I had
come along walking on my hands the way they do in Farthest India."
"Now you must be lying," said Tommy.
Pippi thought a moment. "You're right," she said sadly, "I am lying."
"It's wicked to lie," said Annika, who had at last gathered up enough
courage to speak.
"Yes, it's very wicked to lie," said Pippi even more sadly. "But I
forget it now and then. And how can you expect a little child whose
mother is an angel and whose father is king of a cannibal island and who
herself has sailed on the ocean all her life-how can you expect her to
tell the truth always? And for that matter," she continued, her whole
freckled face lighting up, "let me tell you that in the Congo there is
not a single person who tells the truth. They lie all day long. Begin at
seven in the morning and keep on until sundown. So if I should happen to
lie now and then, you must try to excuse me and to remember that it is
only because I stayed in the Congo a little too long. We can be friends
anyway, can't we?"
"Oh, sure," said Tommy and realized suddenly that this was not going to
be one of those dull days.
"By the way, why couldn't you come and have breakfast with me?" asked
"Why not?" said Tommy. "Come on, let's go."
"Oh, yes, let's," said Annika.
"But first I must introduce you to Mr. Nilsson," said Pippi, and the
little monkey took off his cap and bowed politely.
Then they all went in through Villa Villekulla's tumbledown garden gate,
along the gravel path, bordered with old moss-covered trees-really good
climbing trees they seemed to be-up to the house, and onto the porch.
There stood the horse, munching oats out of a soup bowl.
"Why do you have a horse on the porch?" asked Tommy. All horses he knew
lived in stables.
"Well," said Pippi thoughtfully, "he'd be in the way in the kitchen, and
he doesn't like the parlor."
Tommy and Annika patted the horse and then went on into the house. It
had a kitchen, a parlor, and a bedroom. But it certainly looked as if
Pippi had forgotten to do her Friday cleaning that week. Tommy and
Annika looked around cautiously just in case the king of the Cannibal
Isles might be sitting in a corner somewhere. They had never seen a
cannibal king in all their lives. But there was no father to be seen,
nor any mother either.
Annika said anxiously, "Do you live here all alone?"
"Of course not!" said Pippi. "Mr. Nilsson and the horse live here too."
"Yes, but I mean don't you have any mother or father here?"
"No, not the least little tiny bit of a one," said Pippi happily.
"But who tells you when to go to bed at night and things like that?"
"I tell myself," said Pippi. "First I tell myself in a nice friendly
way; and then, if I don't mind, I tell myself again more sharply; and if
I still don't mind, then I'm in for a spanking-see?"
Tommy and Annika didn't see at all, but they thought maybe it was a good
way. Meanwhile they had come out into the kitchen, and Pippi cried,
Now we're going to make a pancake, Now there's going to be a
pankee, Now we're going to fry a pankye.
Then she took three eggs and threw them up in the air. One fell down on
her head and broke so that the yolk ran into her eyes, but the others
she caught skillfully in a bowl, where they smashed to pieces.
"I always did hear that egg yolk was good for the hair," said Pippi,
wiping her eyes. "You wait and see-mine will soon begin to grow so fast
it will crackle. As a matter of fact, in Brazil all the people go about
with eggs in their hair. And there are no bald-headed people. Only once
was there a man who was so foolish that he ate his eggs instead of
rubbing them on his hair. He became completely bald, and when he showed
himself on the street there was such a riot that the police were called
While she was speaking Pippi had neatly picked the eggshells out of the
bowl with her fingers. Now she took a bath brush that hung on the wall
and began to beat the pancake batter so hard that it splashed all over
the walls. At last she poured what was left onto a griddle that stood on
When the pancake was brown on one side she tossed it halfway up to the
ceiling, so that it turned right around in the air, and then she caught
it on the griddle again. And when it was ready she threw it straight
across the kitchen right onto a plate that stood on the table.
"Eat!" she cried. "Eat before it gets cold!"
And Tommy and Annika ate and thought it a very good pancake.
Afterward Pippi invited them to step into the parlor. There was only one
piece of furniture in there. It was a huge chest with many tiny drawers.
Pippi opened the drawers and showed Tommy and Annika all the treasures
she kept there. There were wonderful birds' eggs, strange shells and
stones, pretty little boxes, lovely silver mirrors, pearl necklaces, and
many other things that Pippi and her father had bought on their journeys
around the world. Pippi gave each of her new playmates a little gift to
remember her by. Tommy got a dagger with a shimmering mother-of-pearl
handle and Annika, a little box with a cover decorated with pink shells.
In the box there was a ring with a green stone.
"Suppose you go home now," said Pippi, "so that you can come back
tomorrow. Because if you don't go home you can't come back, and that
would be a shame."
Tommy and Annika agreed that it would indeed. So they went home-past the
horse, who had now eaten up all the oats, and out through the gate of
Villa Villekulla. Mr. Nilsson waved his hat at them as they left.
Excerpted from "Pippi Longstocking" by Astrid Lindgren. Copyright © 2005 by Astrid Lindgren. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.