The Moomins are as good as Enid Blyton: it’s official!

Holly has written a review of three Moomin books she has recently read:

courtesy of Wikimedia.org

courtesy of moomintrove.com

courtesy of pickandmiximages.co.uk

What they’re about: Many of you might already be more than familiar with the delightful Moomins, but Holly and I only recently started getting to know them. They are bizarre little creatures that look rather like tiny hippopotami (well, Moomin, Moominmamma, Moominpappa and the Snork Maiden), while their friends are an exotic array of beings, some of which look pixie-ish or elfish. Often found as comic strips, the Moomin stories we read were chapter books and focused on the various adventures of the Moomins and their friends: the first (Finn Family Moomintroll) deals with the odd goings-on when the Moomins find a magic hat, the second (Moominland Midwinter) relates the story of Moomin waking up from hibernation in the middle of winter and discovering a world he never knew existed, and the third (Moominsummer Madness) is about a huge flood that displaces the Moomins and their neighbours from their usual home and leads them on a series of adventures.

Holly’s review: These books are about all these different, made-up creatures, like the Moomins or the Mymbles. And in each book there always is a different adventure. They are are about 100 and something pages long and have little pictures on each page but they are not in colour. These books were written by Tove Jansson. I like these books because they are funny, exciting and cute. They are these things because of all the adventures, the creatures’ names, and the way they work together as one big family. If I was asked to rate these books out of 10, I would definitely give it 10/10. I think I like these books as much as Enid Blyton’s, and I would never usually like a book as much as Enid Blyton’s so that shows you how much I like these books.

Sam’s review: I kept hearing about these funny creatures called Moomins but never really paid them much attention. They certainly were never around for my childhood reading – they existed of course, but I never knew of them until fairly recently, I believe. I don’t know how they escaped my radar but I am so glad that we have been discovering them together.

While the Moomins sound like something aimed at tiny children (and the soft toys certainly are) this does not mean that older children and adults cannot delight in them too. Holly was so taken by them that after reading one book she went straight to the library to ask for more. For me, their appeal lies in the very sweet nature of their characters. There is nothing really threatening in their world, even when they are flooded out of their home! Every creature takes life in their stride, anger is rare and there is a general sense of cooperation and mutual respect. The content is what I would call ‘gentle’. It’s comforting, funny and pleasant. I don’t mean that in any way to be insulting – I think it’s great to pick up a children’s book and not be terrorized by sad events or derelict parents. And the names are wonderfully inventive and quite bizarre too – Snork Maiden and Mymbles are some of my favourites, as well as the totally peculiar Hattyfatteners:

 

courtesy of users.livejournal.com 

Tove Jansson’s illustrations are also magnificent and compliment the story so well. Sometimes they look a little spooky in black and white (I think the above illustration shows this quite well) but they also remind me of Arthur Rackham in some ways, with the influence on pen/pencil drawings and monochrome:

courtesy of schneef.com

 

I think we might take a look soon at the Moomin comics to see if we can convert Holly to them. She’s not a keen comic reader and neither am I (we both find the pages too busy, with so many pictures and words competing with one another). However, since we love the Moomins so much we might just be persuaded otherwise.

 

Have you read any of the Moomin books? Please share your experiences!

Advertisements

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Hurrah for Moomins! So glad Holly likes them. I adored them as a child and still do. There are some dark things there though (as in all the best children’s books). The antlion is a bit scary and as for the groke – brrrr. Something very menacing there. ToveJansson was an extraordinary woman – there was a fascinating documentary on her recently on TV.

    Like

    1. Thanks Griselda for your comment. You’re absolutely right – I hadn’t thought of the Groke. These have now become firm favourites here and I think we will work our way quickly through all of them. I must look up the Tove Jansson documentary – thanks for letting me know.

      Like

  2. My husband read these books when he was little, and keeping with family tradition we read them to my daughter when she was quite young (5/6years). She didn’t seem to find them scary, and they were a lovely bedtime read. Jansson’s style and characters are so fanciful and gentle!! I’m glad to see they translate to a new generation.

    Like

    1. Great to hear of another Moomin fan! I love the names – fantastic and so original. And the stories are exciting without being too alarming.

      Like

      1. It’s hard to describe these books to people unfamiliar with them — about funny Finnish creatures living in the woods — you do a great job here! Let me know what you think of the comics.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s