Sin duda esta es una de las leturas más recordadas de toda la primaria, a pesar de ser muy extensa pero la popularidad del Palitroche fue contundente.
Investigando un poco acerca del origen de este cuento, encontré que la autora Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) fue de origen sueco y que se trató de una gran escritora de cuentos infantiles, ganando premios, reconocimientos y todo eso. Pues resulta que una de sus obras más conocidas es precisamente una serie de historias de la que forma parte este cuento (llevada también a la TV y al cine), donde nuestra amiga Pita originalmente se llama Pippi Langstrump (en sueco) ó Pippi Longstocking (en inglés). Esta es la portada de uno de sus libros donde aparece con su imágen más representativa (pelirroja y con trenzas):
Y a continuación el fragmento original (en inglés) donde Pippi (Pita) descubre la palabra nueva, el cual aparece en el capitulo llamado "Pippi in the South Seas" (Pippi en los Mares del Sur) publicado en 1948:
Pippi Finds a Spink
One morning Tommy and Annika came skipping into Pippi’s kitchen as usual, shouting good morning. But there was no answer. Pippi was sitting in the middle of the kitchen table with Mr. Nilsson, the little monkey, in her arms and a happy smile on her face.
“Good morning,” said Tommy and Annika again.
“Just think,” said Pippi dreamily, “just think that I have discovered it-I and no one else!”
“What have you discovered?” Tommy and Annika wondered. They weren’t in the least bit surprised that Pippi had discovered something because she was always doing that, but they did want to know what it was.
“What did you discover, anyway, Pippi?”
“A new word,” said Pippi and looked at Tommy and Annika as if she had just this minute noticed them. “A brand-new word.”
“What kind of word?” said Tommy.
“A wonderful word,” said Pippi. “One of the best I’ve ever heard.”
“Say it then,” said Annika.
“Spink,” said Pippi triumphantly.
“Spink,” repeated Tommy. “What does that mean?”
“If I only knew!” said Pippi. “The only thing I know is that it doesn’t mean vacuum cleaner.”
Tommy and Annika thought for a while. Finally Annika said, “But if you don’t know what it means, then it can’t be of any use.”
“That’s what bothers me,” said Pippi.
“Who really decided in the beginning what all the words should mean?” Tommy wondered.
“Probably a bunch of old professors,” said Pippi. “People certainly are peculiar I Just think of the words they make up-‘tub” and “stopper” and “string” and words like that. Where they got them from, nobody knows. But a wonderful word like “spink,” they don’t bother to invent. How lucky that I hit on it! And you just bet I’ll find out what it means, too.”
She fell deep in thought.
“Spink, I wonder if it might be the top part of a blue flagpole,” she said doubtfully.
“Flagpoles aren’t blue,” said Annika.
“You’re right. Well, then, I really don’t know. ... Or do you think it might be the sound you hear when
you walk in the mud and it gets between your toes? Let’s hear how it sounds. As Annika walked in
the mud you could hear the most wonderful spink.” She shook her head. “No, that’s no good. You could hear the most wonderful tjipp’- that’s what it should be instead.”
Pippi scratched her head. “This is getting more and more mysterious. But whatever it is, I’m going to find
out. Maybe it can be bought in the stores. Come on, let’s go and ask!”
Tommy and Annika had no objection. Pippi went off to hunt for her purse, which was full of gold pieces. “Spink,” she said. “It sounds as if it might be expensive. I’d better take a gold piece along.” And she did. As usual Mr. Nilsson jumped up on her shoulder.
Then Pippi lifted the horse down from the veranda.
“We’re in a hurry,” she said to Tommy and Annika. “We’ll have to ride. Because otherwise there might not be any spink left when we get there. It wouldn’t surprise me if the mayor had already bought the last of it.”
When the horse came galloping through the streets of the little town with Pippi and Tommy and Annika on his
back, the children heard the clatter of his hoofs on the cobblestones and came happily running because they all liked Pippi so much.
“Pippi, where are you going?” they cried.
“I’m going to buy spink,” said Pippi and brought the horse to a halt for a moment.
The children looked puzzled.
“Is it something good?” a little boy asked.
“You bet,” said Pippi and licked her lips.
“It’s wonderful. At least it sounds as if it were.”
In front of a candy shop she jumped off the horse, lifted Tommy and Annika down, and in they went.
“I would like to buy a bag of spink,” said Pippi.
“But I want it nice and crunchy.”
“Spink,” said the pretty lady behind the counter, trying to think. “I don’t believe we have that.”
“You must have it,” said Pippi. “All well-stocked shops carry it.”
“Yes, but we’ve just run out of it,” said the lady, who had never even heard of spink but didn’t want to admit that her shop wasn’t as well-stocked as any other.
“Oh, but then you did have it yesterday!” cried Pippi eagerly. “Please, please tell me how it looked. I’ve never seen spink in all my life. Was it red striped?”
Then the nice lady blushed prettily and said, “No, I really don’t know what it is. In any case, we don’t have it here.”
Very disappointed, Pippi walked toward the door.
“Then I have to keep on looking,” she said. “I can’t go back home without spink.”
The next store was a hardware store. A salesman bowed politely to the children.
“I would like to buy a spink,” said Pippi. “But I want it to be of the best kind, the one that is used for
The salesman looked sly as a fox. “Let’s see,” he said and scratched himself behind the ear. “Let’s see.” He took out a small rake. “Is this all right?” he said as he handed it to Pippi.
Pippi looked indignantly at him. “That’s what the professors would call a rake,” she said. “But it happens to be a spink I wanted. Don’t try to fool an innocent little child.”
Then the salesman laughed and said, “Unfortunately we don’t have the thing you want. Ask in the store
around the corner that carries notions.”
“Notions,” Pippi muttered to Tommy and Annika when they came out on the street. “I just know they won’t have it there.” Suddenly she brightened.
“Perhaps, after all, it’s a sickness,” she said.
“Let’s go and ask the doctor.”
Annika knew where the doctor lived because she had gone there to be vaccinated. Pippi rang the bell. A nurse opened the door.
“I would like to see the doctor,” said Pippi.
“It’s a very serious case. A terribly dangerous disease.”
“This way, please,” said the nurse.
The doctor was sitting at his desk when the children came in. Pippi went straight to him, closed her eyes, and stuck her tongue out.
“What is the matter with you?” said the doctor.
Pippi opened her clear blue eyes and pulled in her tongue. “I’m afraid I’ve got spink,” she said, “because I itch all over. And when I sleep my eyes close. Sometimes I have the hiccups and on Sunday I didn’t feel very well after having eaten a dish of shoe polish and milk. My appetite is quite hearty, but sometimes I get the food down my windpipe and then nothing good comes of it. It must be the spink which bothers me. Tell me,
is it contagious?”
The doctor looked at Pippi’s rosy face and said, “I think you’re healthier than most. I’m sure you’re not suffering from spink.”
Pippi grabbed him eagerly by the arm. “But there is a disease by that name, isn’t there?”
“No,” said the doctor, “there isn’t. But even if there were, I don’t think it would have any effect on
Pippi looked sad. She made a deep curtsy to the doctor as she said good-by, and so did Annika. Tommy bowed. And then they went out to the horse, who was waiting at the doctor’s fence.
Not far from the doctor’s house was a high
three-story house with a window open on the upper floor. Pippi pointed toward the open window and
said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if the spink is in there. I’ll dash up and see.” Quickly she climbed up the water spout. When she reached the level of the window she threw herself heedlessly into the air and grabbed hold of the window sill. She hoisted herself up by the arms and stuck her head in.
In the room two ladies were sitting chatting. Imagine their astonishment when all of a sudden a red head popped over the window sill and a voice said, “Is there by any chance a spink here?”
The two ladies cried out in terror. “Good heavens, what are you saying, child? Has someone escaped?”
That is exactly what I would like to know,” said Pippi politely.
“Maybe he’s under the bed!” screamed one of the ladies. “Does he bite?”
“I think so,” said Pippi. “He’s supposed to have tremendous fangs.”
The two ladies clung to each other. Pippi looked around curiously, but finally she said with a sigh, “No, there isn’t as much as a spink’s whisker around here. Excuse me for disturbing you. I just thought I would ask, since I happened to be passing by.”
She slid down the water spout and said sadly to Tommy and Annika, There isn’t any spink in this town. Let’s ride back home.”
And that’s what they did. When they jumped down from the horse outside the veranda, Tommy came close
to stepping on a little beetle which was crawling on the gravel path.
“Be careful not to step on the beetle!” Pippi cried.
All three bent down to look at it. It was such a tiny thing, with green wings that gleamed like metal.
”What a pretty little creature,” said Annika. “I wonder what it is.”
“It isn’t a June bug,” said Tommy.
“And no ladybug either,” said Annika. “And no stagbeetle. I wish I knew what it was.”
All at once a radiant smile lit up Pippi’s face. “I know,” she said. “It’s a spink.”
“Are you sure?” Tommy said doubtfully.
“Don’t you think I know a spink when I see one?” said Pippi. “Have you ever seen anything so spink-like in your life?”
She carefully moved the beetle to a safer place, where no one could step on it. “My sweet little spink,” she said tenderly. “I knew that I would find one at last. But isn’t it funny! We’ve been hunting all over town for a spink, and here was one right outside Villa Villekulla all the time!”
Y es aqui donde nos podemos dar cuenta de algunos detalles relevantes de la historia, por ejemplo:
- El nombre original de Pita es Pippi, así como los de Anita y Tomás son Anikka y Tommy.
- Pippi tiene los ojos azules.
- En la versión en inglés la palabra que buscan es "Spink", en lugar de Palitroche.
- En el momento en que Annika y Tommy llegan a la cocina, Pita se encontraba con su amigo Mr. Nilsson (un pequeño mono) en los brazos.
- Los tres niños hicieron su recorrido en busca del spink... ¡montando un caballo!
- Antes de ir a la ferretería, Pippi también buscó su spink en una dulcería.
- En la ferretería, lo que el vendedor ofreció a Pippi fue un rastrillo pequeño y no un cepillo.
- Después de ver al doctor, Pippi se asomó por la ventana de una casa donde se encontraban dos señoras platicando y a quienes les preguntó si habían visto un spink.