I was one of the kids who always had her nose in a book. I remember measuring time in chapters – as in “I’ll go to bed in one more chapter!” Some of the books that I read in childhood I swallowed up and never thought of again. Others, like Ronia the Robbers daughter, have stayed with me to be read and reread even in my adulthood.
Astrid Lindgren is best known in the United States for her Pippi Longstocking series. However the Pippi books are really just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve read everything Lindgren has written that’s been translated into English and I love them all, but Ronia is really my favorite.
Like Pippi, Ronia is the kind of heroine that any feminist would be proud to share with her daughter. As the title suggests, she was born (on a “dark and stormy night”) to the Robber King and his loving wife. Ronia grows up surrounded by a darkly magical forest and the battle that her father is engaged in with his closest robber competitor.
In some ways, the story feels like it could have been written by the Grimm brothers – the magical creatures, the vaguely sinister King’s army, the castle-like “robber’s keep” where the merry band of robbers share in the task of raising Ronia. But the moral here isn’t a cautionary one. Independent Ronia finds that she has to follow her own moral compass and not the directions of her beloved but ego-driven dad when she befriends the son of her father’s enemy.
It’s a worth a read for folks of all ages, especially those who are looking for a kick-ass girl role model.
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