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Children’s Book Characters We Wish Were Friends

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Pippi Longstocking—the irrepressible Swedish redhead who’s the hero of three original books and a handful of spin-offs—had grand adventures with her two best friends, Tommy and Annika.

pippi

We’ve been thinking about Pippi and her pals because November 14 would be the 110th birthday of her creator, Astrid Lindgren.

In honor of the fast friends Lindgren created, we asked our book experts here at the New York Public Library to name their ideal friend pairings—characters we’d love to see together, irrespective of time, place, or genre. Here’s what they said.

hawk

Private detective work hasn’t changed that much since the 1930s, has it? OK, even if it has, I still think Philip Marlowe from Raymond Chandler’s L.A. noir classic The Big Sleep and subsequent detective novels would have a pretty great Odd Couple-style rapport with Kate Bishop from Kelly Thompson’s amazing Hawkeye: Anchor Points graphic novel. Despite being separated by nearly 80 years, both of these extremely cool gumshoes have a nose for sniffing out the truth, especially when it comes to complicated crimes plaguing the City of Angels. —Brian Stokes, Jefferson Market Library

stoner

Let’s get William Stoner, the title character of John Williams’ Stoner, together with James Lee, the father from Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. Stoner is a professionally and personally disappointed English professor and the son of hardscrabble farmers, living in 1910s-1950s Missouri. Lee is a professionally and personally disappointed history professor and the son of Chinese immigrants, living in 1970s Ohio. I think they’d have a lot to talk about. —David Nochimson, Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library

pippi

I would love to see a conversation between The Lorax and The Giving Tree. The Lorax protects trees from humans who want to strip them of their resources. The Giving Tree willingly gives all her resources to a little boy she cares for. If they became friends, what would happen? Would the Lorax convince the Giving Tree to be less giving? Would the Giving Tree convince the Lorax to be a little more understanding of humans and their needs? Either way, it would be a life-changing friendship. —Benjamin Sapadin, Morris Park Library

lorax

I can’t imagine the hijinks if Mo Willems’ Pigeon ever met the tiny, tyrannical David from No, David! by David Shannon, but I’d love to be there for it! Two mischievous BFFs, indeed. —Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Young Adult Programming

fairyland

My dream pairing is bloodthirsty Gertrude from Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland and stoic Stevens of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. Gert is a 40-year-old woman trapped in six-year-old’s body, longing to escape Fairyland and intent on causing gory mayhem until she does. Stevens is a dignified English butler obsessed with maintaining control and unable to bury memories of his past. How will the pair negotiate notions of youth, adulthood, and aging? Maybe Gert will snap Stevens out of his restrained facade (if she doesn’t fluffin’ kill him first) and Stevens will teach Gert what it means to have a modicum of dignity. —Crystal Chen, Woodstock Library

 

women

I like to think that four of my favorite female book characters are not only besties but are having lavish brunches together every weekend to talk about men, work, aggravating family and friends, and other newsworthy topics. Just who are these women meeting at eating at Balthazar’s or Jack’s Wife Frieda? Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice is their alpha —she of the snappy comebacks and sensible sensibilities. Jo from Little Women can talk at length on topics high and low, and she’s their moral center. Sophy from The Grand Sophy is an energetic busybody who’s blunt with a capital B (but a consummate diplomat’s daughter), and who serves as the group’s truth-teller. And the all-around fixer and young mentee is Hermione Granger, post-Deathly Hallows, as she juggles a new career, a new relationship, and a bit of PTSD. I see them guiding each other, commiserating, and laughing at each other’s foibles—a lot. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street Library

clementine

I’d love to see spunky Pippi Longstocking befriend the equally spunky (and red-haired!) Clementine. Sara Pennypacker’s hero lives in Boston with her unnamed brother, who gets all sorts of vegetable names from Clementine; her baby sister, Summer; and her kitten, Moisturizer. —Susie Heimbach, Mulberry Street Library

foer

Elsa from Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Oskar from Jonathan Safran Foer’s  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close would be great friends! They are roughly the same age,  both coping with heartbreaking loss. and both sent on mysterious quests by their relatives. —Ronni Krasnow, Morningside Heights Library

dao

I’m curious to see what would happen if Xifeng, the Machiavellian anti-heroine from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was best friends with the exquisitely gorgeous and ruthless Mhari Murphy from The Rhesus Chart. Both would get along swimmingly, with their taste for blood and always looking impeccable. —Kate Fais, Bloomingdale Library

liu

I’d like to see a friendly debate between Liu Bei’s chief adviser and strategist, Zhuge Liang from Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Luan Zya, chief strategist for Kuni Garu in Ken Liu’s  silkpunk epic The Grace of Kings. Both advisers are esteemed as the most brilliant men of their times, strategists and scholars without peer, and they’d likely commiserate on the trials of advising emperors on the rise. —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil Library

barkus

Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series is such a dour, humorless old dude; I’d love to see what happened if Barkus, the exuberant pup from Patricia MacLachlin’s new picture book, showed up on his doorstep. Barkus would whirl and twirl his way into that cold heart right away, Snape would brew him a bark-less potion, and they’d be best friends forever. —Gwen Glazer, Reader Services

pippi

Astrid Lindgren’s marvelous title character of Pippi Longstocking is a kindred spirit to both Anne Shirley of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series—now also a graphic novel by Mariah Marsden!—and Punky Brewster of Joelle Sellner’s graphic novel. All three are vivacious, tenacious, generous, plucky, and resourceful. There is nothing this trio of young women could not accomplish together! —Jennifer Brinley, Parkchester Library

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Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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Correction to your first

Correction to your first paragraph: you meant Tommy and Annika (his sister), not Tommy and Astrid (the author).

aha! thank you!

You're right -- we fixed it now! Thanks so much for catching that.

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