Josna Rege

188. Finn Family Moomintroll

In 1960s, 1990s, Books, Childhood, Family, Inter/Transnational, reading, Stories on April 6, 2013 at 12:01 am
photo by Oliver Weiss (from oweiss.com)

photo by Oliver Weiss (from oweiss.com)

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was a Swedish-speaking Finnish writer, painter, illustrator, and comic-strip artist who is best known and beloved worldwide for having created the Moomin (Mumintroll in Swedish) books. They started off as comic strips and then developed into novels, nine of them. As a girl I read only three, Finn Family Moomintroll (in the Puffin edition above), Comet in Moominland, and Moominsummer Madness, but they were enough to induct me into Moominland for life.

Moomin_kuvaMoomin Valley is a whole world, with a loving, closeknit family at its center, but also a long list of other characters, creatures who are not biologically related but are nonetheless welcomed into the family. Besides the home-loving Moomins—our quiet hero Moomintroll, Moominmamma, Moominpappa, the vain and rather empty-headed Snork Maiden—his kind-of sort-of girlfriend (not)—and her brother the Snork—there is the troubled Mymble’s daughter and her devilish sister Little My, the officious but doleful Hemulen, the electric-eel-like Hattifatteners, Sniff, Emma the eccentric and misanthropic rat and the terrifying but terribly lonely Groke. Whomper, the Muskrat, Misabel (as miserable as her name), the Fillyjonk, and Thingummy and Bob also make appearances at various times.

And then there is Snufkin: Snufkin the wanderer, Moomintroll’s best friend of all time. Snufkin is almost always away and Moomintroll misses him terribly, but he knows that his friend would not be happy if he were not able to leave the Valley whenever the road called to him.

Writers like Tove Jansson who create worlds always embed values in them, and the values young readers imbibe with the Moomin books are the very best, delivered with a light touch, but deeply humane. Just to list two that stay with me: the Moomins never take one another for granted, thanking Moominmamma sincerely after every meal. And they are never exclusive: they take in any creature who comes to their door, whether or not that creature is trustworthy or even likeable.

Little My (lechaudronfele.blogspot.com)

Little My (lechaudronfele.blogspot.com)

If you want to learn more about the creator of the Moomins,  visit Tove Jansson : virtual museum and life story, an imaginatively conceived and designed website not to be missed, and Brian Sibley’s illustrated account of his correspondence with her. It is a delight to scroll though Oliver Weiss’s design blog, where he has scanned the covers of his large collection of Moomin editions in several languages. Above all, if you haven’t encountered them already, find a copy of Finn Family Moomintroll and read it aloud to your children or grandchildren. Better still, read it yourself, no matter how old you are.

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

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  1. Lovely post, Josna.

  2. These look like wonderful books filled with colorful characters! Very creative names too. I wish I knew about this series when my boys were little.

  3. I seem to remember a picture book my kids had about moomins who were ecologists saving the world. But maybe that was some other creatures because the pictures don’t ring a bell. That little mean monster on the plate…LOL.

    • Yes, that illustration is so Little My–leaping onto the food to claim it before anyone else does (whereas the Moomins are a courteous lot who believe in sharing)! It might be another book you’re thinking of, because Tove Jansson illustrated all the Moomin books herself. Could you possibly have been thinking of The Wump World by Bill Peet? THanks so much for visiting and posting a comment. J

  4. I like the name Fillyjonk best of all, but those are some great names! Sounds like a fun series.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  5. fantastic… for real!

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host
    Oh No, Let’s Go… Crazy

    • Thanks, Jeremy! Yes, that’s apt–this fantasy world rings true emotionally and in terms of characters and human relationships.

  6. […] Finn Family Moonmintroll […]

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