Literature: Little Sophie and Lanky Flop

Little Sophie and Lanky Flop (Kleine Sofie en Lange Wapper ) is a Dutch children's book, written in 1984 by Els Pelgrom and illustrated by Thé Tjong-Khing. The book has won a lot of awards, and has been published in about a dozen languages, including English.

Sophie is a curious young girl. She's heavily implied to be dying of cancer, and spends her days in bed, bored out of her mind. One night, her cat Terror and her dolls (Lanky Flop, Mr. Bear, and Arabella, among others) come alive in front of her eyes to stage a theatre play. Sophie is excited at the idea, and begs for a chance to join in. The cat and the dolls are reluctant — but they decide to let her be part of the play, if she's so keen on finding out what's "for sale in life". Before she knows it, Sophie is drawn into the world of Terror's story, which suddenly seems frighteningly real.

Being a Dutch author, Pelgrom pulls absolutely no punches. Sophie is quickly shown extreme poverty, death, sex, betrayal, and decadence; she loses her hair, ends up in an orphanage for "kids that came out wrong", is thrown in jail, gets lost at sea, and in the end, dies in reality. But because of what she's learned in her imaginary travels, she's able to imagine a happy ending for herself, and dreams of driving off on a new adventure with her new friends.

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