Friday, 16 March 2012

Concerning Moomins

A friend gave me this slightly plaintive looking moomin as a present recently:

The Moomins were, of course, created by Tove Jansson and if you haven’t read the eight volumes that make up what is somewhat grandiosely known as The Moomin Saga, then you have a treat in store.

They are children’s books sure enough, but such joyous ones. Or at least the early ones are.There’s a facebook application where you can identify which Moomin character you most resemble. I took it and was informed that I was Moomintroll:

I was slightly disappointed as for all that Moomintroll is, pretty much, the hero of the series and is in all but one of the books, I had been holding out for Snufkin, who is so much cooler.

The first five books are cheerful enough, though Moominvalley Midwinter has a melancholy streak to it.

But the surprising one is Moominpappa at Sea.

I suspect that these days children’s books about the male menopause pretty much fill up the kids’ shelves in Waterstones, but back in the early ‘70s they were not so common. I remember my mother reading this one to me as a bedtime story and stopping off now and again to ask me if I wanted her to continue. I did, but in a wide-eyed, slightly scared way. It’s an uncomfortable read yet, though excellent.

The joy of the stories is the number of sympathetic and beautifully drawn characters. There’s the Hemulen who always wore a dress that he had inherited from his aunt:

the sinister yet ultimately tragic Groke:

the mysterious and enigmatic Hattifatteners:

and if you find the Snork Maiden a bit too pliant a female character:

she is all but off-set by the true star of the series, Little My!

Tove Jansson also wrote excellent books for adults, but that is for another time. For the moment, let’s finish with the last words of The Exploits of Moominpappa:

"…a new day…can always bring you anything if you have no objection to it."

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