Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A New Book (For Me), in Which I am Introduced to a Moomintroll

What do you get from an author who 1) was born into the Swedish speaking minority of Finland; 2) spent her summers in a family cottage on an island; 3) had a father who was a sculptor, and a mother who was a graphic designer; and 4) as a young woman became so sad during WWII that she wanted to write something innocent and hopeful?  Tove Jansson's  Moomins!

If you've been following my blog the past few weeks, you are aware that I recently returned from a tour of Scandinavia. Our tour guide's sweet wife (herself a lover of children's literature and especially Astrid Lindren - more about that later), made sure I got to make a quick stop at the largest children's bookstore in Sweden. 

The bookstore was in a museum called Junibacken, which is devoted to children's literature.

Junibacken Museum happened to have a Mumin (Swedish for "Moomin") Exhibit while we were there!  The exhibit consisted of a little themed playland with lots of fun settings from Tove Jansson's books...

Moominmamma's Kitchen

Well, truth be told, I had never read the Moomin books, but I had seen them listed on several "Best Children's Books" lists.  So I excitedly purchased my first one!

Are they trolls, or what?
I'm not really sure...
As you can see, they are way cuter than the ugly Troll I came across at the Voss train station in Norway!

But Moomintrolls certainly seem to have stepped out of the world of Scandinavian folk-lore!

Finn Family Moomintroll is the third in the series, and the first one  ever translated into English.  I figured the English speaking world's introduction to the Moomin family was a good place for me to start!

Tove Jonsson's adorable illustrations really add to the stories.  They bring the reader along, and help us see the land and characters she has created.

(By the way, I adore the vintage book covers like the one above - see more here.  In my opinion, the new Puffin editions like mine, pictured at the top of this post, completely leave out the whimsical fairytale nature of the books.)

In Finn Family Moomintroll, the first bit of real magic happens after the Moomins have woken up from their long winter sleep and are enjoying a spring day mountain-top experience.  That's when they find a black top hat.

A Hobgoblin's Hat!  (Which they bring home.)

In the corner between the table and the kitchen door stood the Hobgoblin's Hat with the eggshell in the bottom.  And then something really strange happened.  The eggshell began to change its shape.
(This is what happens, you see.  If something lies long enough in the Hobgoblin's Hat it begins to change into something quite different - what that will be you never know beforehand.  It was lucky that the hat hadn't fitted Moomominpappa because the-Protector-of-all-Small-Beasts knows what would have become of him if he had worn it a bit longer.  As it was he only got a slight headache - and that was over after dinner.)
Meanwhile the eggshell had become soft and woolly, although it still stayed white, and after a time it filled the hat completely.  Then five small clouds broke away...

Moomintroll (Moomminpappa and Moominmamma's child) and the Snork Maiden (his friend) figure out how to fly the little clouds.  So they hop on, and away they go!  

They come across Hemulen (another Moomin), who collects stamps.

When they greet him, Hemulen says:
"That's extraordinary.  But I'm so used to your doing extraordinary things that nothing surprises me.  Besides I'm feeling melancholy just now...my stamp collection is complete"....

"I think I'm beginning to understand," said Moomintroll slowly.  "You aren't a collector anymore, you're only and owner, and that isn't nearly so much fun."

There are all sorts of whimsical (and some slightly scary) characters in Moominvalley, and they go through all sorts of non-sensical adventures.  

Think Edith Nesbit's "Psammead", from The Five Children and It, mixed with L. Frank Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz, a little bit of of A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood thrown in, and you've got an idea of how fun these books are.

Have you read about the Moomins?  If you haven't, I think you and your child will really like these silly little creatures!

And please come back for more posts - I still have a Scandinavian Book Giveaway coming up! 


  1. What an amazing bookstore. How I would love to browse through that one. Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. That bookstore looks like a dream! I love thd Moomin books, but unfortunately, my daughters never got into them. Oh, well, I can just read them myself!