Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren, Nancy Seligsohn, Florence Lamborn
The first book chronicling the wild antics of Pippi Longstocking, the nine-year-old girl who does and says exactly what she wants, is afraid of nothing (and doesn't need to be), and has boundless confidence that her whims are all excellent, her logic is always perfect, and she has absolutely no need to learn anything from anyone. She's a perfect contrast to her neighbor Annika's primness and timidity, and to be sure Annika needs to learn a bit of self-confidence. (Thanks, Ms. Lindgren, for putting a model of freedom in front of girls.) But personally, I find Pippi too overbearing. Sure, she's not cruel and never wants to hurt anyone, she's generous (but on her own terms, never bothering to find out what the people she gives gifts to actually want), and she occasionally gets a glimmering of an inkling that she's hurt someone's feelings and is sorry for at least a few milliseconds; but on the whole, you could only enjoy her company if you were willing to simply go along with her, not having your own ideas. Me, I'd prefer a friend who practiced a bit more give-and-take.