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 — everything life is all about.
This book contains examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: No one can really answer Sophie's questions, and when they can, they're too jaded by the horrors of life to really help her.
- Amusement Park of Doom: Although it's more of a traditional village fair.
- Children Are Innocent: Sophie? Yes. The target audience? Not so much.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Discussed. Given a wish, Sophie asks for a nice warm coat for Lanky Flop. She isn't told until later that she's supposed to give something in return - her long, gorgeous hair. That way, the universe balances out... supposedly.
- Friends with Benefits: Lanky Flop and Arabella.
- Innocent Inaccurate: If it's cancer Sophie is dying of, her losing her hair in the fantasy world makes a lot of sense.
- Orphanage of Love: Sophie briefly lives in one.
- Rage Against the Author: Sophie gets mad at Terror when it turns out his play involves people dying. His response? That's just life.