REVIEW: Adventures in Moominland

I came across this beautiful boxed set of Moomin books by Tove Jansson, published by Puffin, in a charity shop last year. This collection was published in 1975 and the set of eight books cost me £7. To say I was delighted is a huge understatement.

I read the majority of them last year and finished the final one today.

They are photographed with the Hemulen on the left and Moominpapa on the right. Just two of my collection of Moomin toys. I also have a Moomin purse, several bookmarks, some pictures and a lamp. I’m a bit of a fan.

Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated these books. The first was published in Finnish in 1945. The books were translated into English from the late 1950s – at least the final eight of the nine books were. It is these that are included in this boxed set.

The first book, The Moomins and the Great Flood, wasn’t translated into English until 2005.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Moomins are fictional creatures who live in Moominvalley in Moominland surrounded by friends comprising a host of varied creatures, and lots of animals. They garden, they cook, they play and they sail. They explore, they sleep and they invent things. They are friendly and kind.

Some believe the characters have been based on members of Janssen’s own family; Moominmama and Moominpapa drawn from her own parents, Little-My and Moomintroll – our main protagonist – thought to be a psychological picture of Jansson herself and Jansson’s life partner, graphic artist Tuulikki Pietila, immortalised in Too-Ticky.

Moomins look sort of like furry white hippos. But they’re not hippos, they are trolls, and together with various selections of their friends, they get up to a lot of adventures, both on land and at sea.

Why I enjoy them so much is because Moomins are like humans without all the crappy bits. They are intelligent, articulate, artistic, tolerant and kind. They are adventurous while still being home-loving. They have Bohemian attitudes, accepting of other creatures whatever their quirks and beliefs and they are lovers of nature. What’s more they hibernate during winter. As far as I am concerned Moomins are the perfect race and I want to be one. There, I’ve said it. I want to be a Moomin.

This set starts with a Comet in Moominland and includes Finn Family Moomintroll, The Exploits of Moominpapa, Moominsummer Madness, Moominland Midwinter (they don’t hibernate that year), Tales From Moominvalley, Moominpapa At Sea and Moominvalley in November, which doesn’t includes any Moomins because they’re still at sea having not returned from the previous book.

These books are accessible for youngsters but have enough depth for older children and adults to enjoy. They spread a message of love, hope and tolerance but also fun and adventure.

As well as being a children’s author and illustrator, Tove Jansson was also an artist, political cartoonist and author of adult fiction.

Letters From Klara and The Winter Book are collections of short stories and Fair Play, True Deceivers and The Summer Book are novels. They are all evocative, lyrical and beautifully written. I haven’t read them for a while, but they are on my bookshelves for a re-read at some point.

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