Pippi Longstocking and Other Children's Stories by Astrid Lindgren
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Astrid Lindgren on the Web:
Astrid Lindgren on Wikipedia
A Theme Park Astrid Lindgren's Värld (World)
Astrid Lindgren on Guardian.co.uk
Astrid Lindgren and Her Stories on Astridlindgren.se
Astrid Lindgren on Rightlivelihood.org



The Lonely Boy Child

Astrid Lindgren wrote several fascinating stories about children and for children in her lifetime. Each of her stories has already become immemorial even if most of them were composed in the latter half of the last century. One of her stories, Rasmus på Luffen (literally meaning Rasmus and the Vagabond, which is also its English version title), has been looked upon with much fondness ever since it was first written. This tale has been much celebrated in Sweden, where the story is based and where Astrid Lindgren is from, for its heartfelt portrayal of the little boy Rasmus and the various difficulties he faces in making his living more worthwhile.

Rasmus is a boy without parents and without a home. He lives in an orphanage. Though he is not actually exploited in the orphanage, he finds the life there to be too dull and boring. He yearns for a real life in the real world. He cherishes a dream of having a home of his own. He resents the fact that prospective child adopters pick the pretty girl children from the orphanage and do not choose him. This detailing of Rasmus' sentiment is done briefly but excellently by Astrid Lindgren who is known to be very good in projecting human emotions, especially those of children.

Being quite starry-eyed and ambitious, Rasmus starts making plans of running away from the orphanage that keeps him. He is all of nine years now and is resourceful enough to make a plan. He does succeed in running away, but he also loses the only place that he could ever call home. He finds that the world outside is not quite as pink and rosy as he had dreamed it to be. He finds the people cool and ruthless toward him and he suddenly realizes that he has to be very tenacious to survive in this world.

Basically, Rasmus is a story of a child's patient struggle to make it on his own, and it works amazingly well. There is a lesson to learn after every few pages in the book.

Of course, Rasmus and the Vagabond is much about the relationship of Rasmus with the only friendly person he meets in the outside world, the colorful Paradise Oskar, who is quite a tramp. Rasmus journeys with Paradise Oskar who opens his eyes to what the real world is all about and even helps him get a home. However, it is the interactions between Rasmus and the very exuberant Paradise Oskar that make this book such a big hit. At one point, the vagabond says that he was meant to be God's own cuckoo in this world and this clearly describes what his character is like. Though both Rasmus and the Vagabond live as bums, there is a certain dignity about them that makes them instantly appealing to people of all walks of life.

Astrid Lindgren wrote Rasmus and the Vagabond in 1956, a little later after the War, when many children of Europe had been rendered homeless and were living in abject poverty in orphanages. It is no wonder that the book struck an immediate chord with them and retains its appealing flavor even today.

Rasmus Video Clips on YouTube