Anders Larson is the father of Kirsten Larson. Kirsten refers to him as "Papa".


Personality and Traits

Kirsten's papa is a hard-working man who is eager to start a new life on the American Frontier with his brother. Papa can be stern, and he has a deep voice. He doesn't like to lose his patience.

In the Books

Meet Kirsten: An American Girl

Papa first appears calling for Kirsten when she is out on the deck with Marta during a storm. He says a storm is coming and with the rocky coast and wind it could be dangerous. He lifts Kirsten and Marta out of the rope coil to lead them down below deck. Water is washing over the deck and into Kirsten's boots as she makes her way towards the hold. Papa hurries the two girls down below.

The storm passes and everyone is safe. The Larsons stand on the deck of the Eagle, which is heading towards the coast. Papa (who is holding Peter) says that he can smell earth again. Mama smiles and leans to whisper to Papa that she often worried that they would not make it. Papa says that she is brave and has heart and he is proud of her and their children. Lars, who has been talking to sailors, says that they will land in New York tomorrow. Mama is glad as they will have fresh bread and she can wash their clothes. Lars says they won't be able to leave before they are examined by the health inspector; he explains the purpose of the health inspector, who will not let anyone who is sick stay in America. Peter worries that Mama is sick and reaches out for her; Mama hugs him. Papa explains that Mama has only been seasick, and that is common; the health inspector is looking for more serious illnesses such as cholera that are fatal. Lars says no one has cholera, and Papa assures Peter there will be nothing to worry about and they will be in New York to continue the journey to Minnesota.

When the ship docks at New York Harbor, Kirsten asks Papa why she's dizzy and Papa explains that they have gotten used to the ship's movement and need to get used to being on land again.

After buying tickets for the rest of the journey, Papa and Lars return with fruit as well. Papa scoops out fruit for Kirsten and Peter before he and Mama share the rest. Mama remarks at the size of the cherries and Lars says everything in America is big, including New York. Papa says they will see more tomorrow as they will leave west tomorrow. Mama asks if he found an honest agent; Mr. Peterson on the boat was cheated of his money. Papa assures her that the agent he chose is good; he is from Sweden, speaks English, and was able to help them exchange their money as well as get the tickets. Mama laments that it will be a long trip to Minnesota. Papa says the agent will guide them to the Mississippi River and they only have a few more weeks travel left. He urges Mama not to lose heart. Peter tugs on Papa and says they need to go buy food. Mama hands Kirsten the milk jug, warning her to stay with her father as she doesn't speak English. Papa takes Peter's hand and the three head down Broadway Street.

As they walk Kirsten is fascinated by all the things around her and asks Papa to slow down so that she can see it all. They get to the bread shop and Papa buys several rolls, giving one to Kirsten and one to Peter. Papa loses Kirsten when a boy bumps into her and she tips over a black boy polishing a man's shoes.

After Kirsten finds her parents again, Papa runs to her as she calls out to them. Papa says that not being able to find her scared them. Kirsten says she thought they would leave without her. Mama says they never would, and asks how she found her way back. Kirsten realizes the woman is gone and explains that she drew the boat and the lady led her back. Papa says that Kirsten is very smart--and next time she should be smart enough to stay near. Kristen promises, meaning it with her heart.

During their journey on the Redding (the Mississippi riverboat that takes them to Minnesota), Kirsten asks Papa why they can't go on the upper deck. Papa explains that the deck is for rich people. Kirsten asks if they could pay more to go up there and Papa says they only have a little money left. which will be needed to hire a wagon to the farm.

After finding out that her friend Marta died, Kirsten begins to sob miserably, unable to say even Marta's name. Mama wraps her arms around Kirsten and Papa pats her shoulder. Papa tells Kirsten to stop crying, but Mama cradles her and says to let Kirsten have her tears.

It is raining when the Larsons disembark the Redwing. Mama touches Kirsten's cheek and tells her to cheer up as Papa and the boys will soon be back with a wagon, making it a short trip to the rest of the farm. However, Papa returns with a frown; they do not have enough money for a horse and wagon. Mama asks what they will do and Papa says they must walk to the farm and leave the trunks. Mama looks at the two trunks and says everything they own is in the trunks and how will they manage. Papa says they will carry what they can and get the trunks later. He begins to take out blankets and tools from inside the larger trunk. Mama pauses and says it can't be helped and they will send for the trunks soon. People are more important than things; they have all made it and are well. She makes a bundle of the remaining food and closes the food trunk. Papa tells Kirsten she will be needed to carry things and will have to leave Sari in the trunk.

Kirsten Learns a Lesson: A School Story

Kirsten's Surprise: A Christmas Story

When Kirsten hears that the trunks were in Maryville and could be picked up, Kirsten begins to ask Papa when he can go pick up the trunks. He explains that he had to complete all the farm chores to make sure their family had enough to survive through the winter, and promises to go when he had time. When he asks why the trunks were so important to Kirsten and she gives Mama's Christmas candles as an example, he says that they all want things they can't have. Papa gets increasingly annoyed at Kirsten's pestering and warns her if she keeps on bugging him about the trunks he would get angry.

One morning, Kirsten overhears her Papa discuss with Mama if he should go into town today to pick up the trunks. When Kirsten asks to join him, he initially tells her the trip would be too long and cold and she would be better off going to school with her brothers. When Kirsten tells him she wanted to go with him more then anything in the world, he asks what Kirsten will do. Kirsten is initially worried he would get upset as he didn't like to be urged to change his mind, but he instead laughs and allows her to join him. On the way to town, he sings a Christmas carol with his daughter.

He and Kirsten arrive into town and pick up the trunk, undeterred by the increasing snowfall. When the storm gets worse to the point they can no longer see the road, Papa does his best to assure Kirsten things would be ok, though Kirsten can see him frown at the snowfall. When Blackie stops moving, Papa has lead the horse to keep him moving. At one point he trips, twisting his knee and unable to walk any further. He initially tells Kirsten there wasn't anything she could do, but when Blackie refuses to move and Kirsten insists she can help, he tells Kirsten he had heart and gives her his gloves to keep her hands warm.

When Blackie leads the two into the valley by the stream, he initially believes the horse got lost. He is surprised that Kirsten recognizes where they were and once they take shelter in the cave he asks how she came upon this cave. Papa is initially stern that Kirsten had wandered this far out without permission, but is ultimately happy Kirsten was such an explorer who found this cave.

When the storm passes, Papa is still unable to put his weight on his leg and has to sit in the sleigh and let Kirsten lead them back home. When they reach the house, he loudly announces their return, that they were safe. Inside, when Mama regrets letting Kirsten go with Papa, he says he would have never found the cave or his way home without her, and calls Kirsten a brave, strong girl. He is delighted by Kirsten's Saint Lucia's Day Surprise.

Happy Birthday, Kirsten!: A Springtime Story

Papa helps Uncle Olav and Lars plant the seeds. On the day Mama gives birth, Kirsten rides to Papa on Blackie, informing him the baby was coming. He asks if it was that much of a hurry and Kirsten insists it was, giving him the reigns to Blackie. Papa squeeze's Kirsten's shoulder, saying she was good helper, before riding Blackie off to the cabin. When Kirsten and Peter see the new baby, he initially states there was another mouth to feed, but he smiled his biggest smile as he expresses gratefulness all six of them were safe and well.

Papa helps raise the barn beams with the rest of the men on the barn raising day. During the dance, he asks Kirsten to have a birthday dance with him, and the two dance a waltz where he sometimes lifted her feet off the floor when he swung her around. When the dance is over, Papa is with Uncle Olav thanking his neighbors and wishing them a good night.

Kirsten Saves The Day: A Summer Story

Kirsten recalls that Papa used to do beekeeping in Sweden, and he had brought his bee veil with him to America. Kirsten believes that by working with her vague memories of watching Papa work with bees, she can collect the honey on her own and surprise her parents.

When Caro returns home, bleeding after having being attacked by the mother bear, Papa feared that Peter and Kirsten had ran into trouble and goes into the woods with his rifle to look for them. He follows Caro's blood trail and calls after the two until he hears their yells and Kirsten's whistle. He helps the two down, asking if they were alright, but Kirsten is afraid of how angry Papa was. When he learns that Kirsten went by the bee tree knowing that bears where nearby, he begins to yell at Kirsten, saying that she had done a very foolish thing, she had known better, and she had to be careful in the woods. When Peter tries to stand up for Kirsten, calling her brave, he says that it wasn't brave to go near bears, it was dangerous.

When Kirsten and Peter say they thought he would be happy about the tree, he explains how Kirsten would have destroyed the much more valuable bee colony, possibly ruin the honey and much worse, get badly stung. He decides that Kirsten didn't need to be paddled as punishment, as she had already seemed remorseful for her actions.

Papa goes with Lars the following day to collect the bees and honey. Kirsten believes he was still angry with her, as he hadn't smiled since yesterday's incident with the bears. He allows Kirsten to follow them into the woods, provided that she did exactly as she was told. At the clearing, he has Kirsten stay behind a line in the sand, and he works with Peter to smoke out the bee hive and saw down the tree. When they return home with the honey, he tells Mama that the bee colony was a good, big one that would make a lot more honey, and the honey already in the tree was plentiful.

When Kirsten begins to cry, Papa wipes her tears. He tells Kirsten she was a smart girl and certainly brave, nothing seeming to scare her. She just had to remember to be brave and careful at the same time. His smile assures Kirsten that everything was all right.

Papa travels with the rest of his family into Maryville. He's initially worried about letting Caro join them into town, afraid he would get into fights with the local dogs. He eventually relents, figuring that two kids would be able to keep an eye on him. When showing Mr. Berkhoff their honey, Papa is the one to tell him that Kirsten was the one to find it, that she had a nose as good as a bear's.

Papa finds Kirsten admiring the straw hat and jokes that Kristen's bonnet wasn't hot enough for her. He puts the straw hat on Kristen, explaining that he was initially worried they wouldn't be able to sell enough goods to afford what they needed, but Kirsten's honey had earned then enough and even more. As a gift, he was going to get Kirsten and Peter one item from the store that they wanted, and asks if Kirsten wanted the straw hat. When the parade begins, he tells Kirsten to go on with her new hat, saying that a girl needs a straw hat on a day like this.

Changes for Kirsten: A Winter Story

Anders, as well as Olav are gone for the winter to work in a logging camp. He writes to Mama that the logging is going well and hopes that his earnings, as well the money earned from selling the pelts, will be enough to buy more land for farming, unaware that the Larson cabin has been destroyed during his absence.

At the end of the trapping season and with the money earned from both Old Jack's pelts and the ones from the trap lines, Papa sends another letter to his family, stating he and Mr. Stewart have already arranged a deal on the Stewarts' house and for the Larsons to prepare for his return. Kirsten is the first person to see Papa arriving home, at their new house.

Kirsten Snowbound!

Anders is away at a logging camp. Kirsten is hoping for a letter from him telling the family when he'd come home.

Kirsten's Promise

Kirsten tells Papa about Ezra and the wagon, and he goes out to the clearing to help him. He puts his hand when Ezra points his rifle at him, telling him it was all right and he just came to have a word with him. Papa went close to Ezra and crouched down so that they were eye level. He tells Ezra he was a very brave boy, that not many would have been able to do what he'd done for his Mama. He tells Ezra when he gets to California, his Papa's going to tell him how proud he was of Ezra.


Papa and Kirsten assisting Ezra.

Papa tells Ezra he knew he was brave enough to stay here, but he thinks it wasn't what his Mama was asking him to do. He explains he thinks she was asking him to stay until he's done all he could do for her. Papa says the only thing left to do was to make a marker for the grave, something he could help with, and he could help the boy get to Red Wing. Papa insists that Ezra's Mama would want him to go to his friends there, saying he could trust him when he said she'd want him to join his Papa. He tells Ezra to come along, saying he'll hitch up their wagon and come pick up his belongings.

Papa picked up Ezra's rifle and put a hand on the boy's shoulder, saying they would get some warm food into him and get his horse fed as well. Papa tells Kirsten he's never seen as dog as loyal as Ezra's, nor has he ever known a boy so young to have such a strong heart. He then squeezed Kristen's shoulder, saying he's never known a girl to make a better choice then Kirsten did today.

The Runaway Friend


  • The American Girls Album and An American Girl's Family Album both state in Last Name Facts that Kirsten's last name was "Larsdotter" in Sweden and her father's first name was Lars. This was incorrect; in Kirsten's Surprise the trunks that had to be stored at Mr. Berkhoff's General Store have "Anders Larson" painted on the sides. It is more likely, given that Anders and Olav have the same last name, that it was their father who was named Lars.
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