Tove Jansson’s The Moomins have a been a book translated into 44 languages, a comic strip, a cartoon, a stop action animation, a 3D film, an opera, and a theme park. This year Jansson’s beloved Finland will commemorate her birth with a variety of events and releases.
Her most famous work, and the reason I know her name, The Moomins, is set in the fictional Moomin Valley in the forests of Finland. The three main characters, MoominPapa, MoominMama, and MoominTroll are a family of Trolls who are accompanied on their adventures by curious friends such as Mymble, Little My, the Hemulen, and Snork Maiden. Not to be left behind by technology, The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My was the first book to be adapted for the iPad. MoominPapa at Sea remains my favorite, but her early work went largely unnoticed until 1951 when it was translated into English.
For those of us who can’t join in the festivities in Finland, I thoroughly recommend the original books:
- The Moomins and the Great Flood 1945.
- Comet in Moominland 1946.
- Finn Family Moomintroll 1948.
- The Exploits of Moominpappa 1950.
- Moominsummer Madness 1954.
- Moominland Midwinter 1957.
- Tales from Moominvalley 1962.
- Moominpappa at Sea 1965.
- Moominvalley in November 1970.
With the addition of five picture books:
- The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My 1952.
- Who Will Comfort Toffle? 1960.
- The Dangerous Journey 1977.
- An Unwanted Guest 1980
- Songs from Moominvalley 1993
For more details on the life and times of Tove Jannson, there is a wonderful piece on the BBC website about her, revealing things I never knew. For instance, the first Moomin character was based on Immanuel Kant, and was the result of an argument with her brother! Before The Moomins, her first published work was Sara and Pelle and the Octopuses of the Water Sprite, an encouragement for young voices everywhere, it was published when she was just thirteen.
She wrote fascinating stories and led a fascinating life. At two and four years old, my sons have already been exposed to the Moomins through the various board books available. We have Moomin’s Little Book of Words, Moomin’s Little Book of Numbers, and a mini set introducing the characters. As my eldest son starts Kindergarten this year, it won’t be long before I begin introducing him to the stories I know and love.
If you enjoy Shel Silverstein, Edward Gorey, or Joan Aiken, you will thoroughly enjoy Tove Jansson and her Moomins.