There aren't two better writers to get carried away with during children's book week than Astrid Lindgren and William Steig, who share the same birthday today. Ms. Lindgren, whos a national hero in her native Sweden, is most famous for the Pipi Longstocking stories, that she first began telling aloud for her own nine-year-old daughter, Karin, in 1944. Karin, who was sick at the time, had demanded to hear about Pippi Longstocking -- a name that the little girl, according to Lindgren, had made up on the spot. So her mother obliged and created a cycle of stories of a super strong, fun-loving, iconoclastic nine-year-old, who lives alone with her monkey in a house called Villa Villekulla and who has one spectacular escapade after another. No one can defeat Pippi -- not burglers or the circus strong man, Adolf, or adult authority figures -- she can eat a whole birthday cake in one sitting or lift a cow with one hand. The Pippi books haven t been out of print since they first appeared in 1945, and now theres a nice big collection of all three of the Pippi novels to carry your dreaming nine-year-old to the South Seas of the imagination.
William Steig is one of this country s most sophisticated writers and illustrators of picture books. His are subtle, ascerbic fables about principled and clever mice dentists, like Dr. De Soto, who manages to outfox the fox with a bad bicuspid and an even worse attitude, and gritty children like Brave Irene, who makes a vital delivery in the middle of a blizzard to rescue her mothers dressmaking business. But Steig is perhaps best known for his stories about magical transformations -- like Solomon the rabbit who becomes a rusty nail, and Sylvester, the donkey, who finds a magic pebble that can make any wish come true. And then there's Shrek, the ogriest ogre of all.
Copyright © 2001 by John Cech
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