Discover the Magic of Moomins: Celebrating Tove Jansson's 109th Birthday

Originally published at: Discover the Magic of Moomins: Celebrating Tove Jansson's 109th Birthday | Boing Boing



I keep seeing ads for Moomin dollhouses, I guess you’d call them. About the same time I started seeing this Bluey stuff. I’ve had no idea what either is. I never quite got around to googling them, so I’m glad for this post, which sort of filled in a puzzle piece.

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Looks suspiciously like @robertmckenna


Wonderful! I need to revisit the Moomin books. Moomin Poppa at Sea is easily one of my favourite books. It heavily influenced my 20s.


The Magic of Tove Jansson… one super cool lady!
The Summer Book is lovely.


My choice of avatar was because of a service at work called “Myxxxxx” and it was behaving…. badly let us say so I chose Little My as the avatar to apologise for its unpleasant behaviour. In truth my children didn’t love Moomin books as much as I loved reading them to them.

But here is a picture of boathouses in Finland from my first visit last week which reminded me of Moomin summer:


My daughter and I are both bonkers about the Moomins, and are half-way through the collection. Snufkin is also her favourite character, and she’ll be dressing as him for her Book Week costume this year. My son loves the sentences, and they briefly put him into a kind of trance, but he doesn’t have the patience to let the stories unfold at their pace. He gets fidgety and suggests other books after a few pages.

If you’re reading to kids, start with the first book and go through in order. But if you’re a grown-up reading for yourself, and you like complicated emotional stories, start with the last one: “Moominvalley in November”. Tove Jansson steers all her stories with a subtle but solid hand, this last book particularly so. It was written after the author’s mother died, and it’s a warm and quirky and frustrating and joyful - sometimes all at the same time - meditation on loss and continuation [1]. And somehow it works as a children’s book. I used this book to introduce my kids to the Moomins, because we’d had a year of Covid and two dear grandparents dying. Even though death itself isn’t mentioned, it steers beautifully through the feelings of loss.

[1] spoiler - nobody dies, but characters are missing and the others feel the absence profoundly.


The quoted writer’s insistence on ‘family values’ and ‘strong bonds of family love’ seems to me like a slightly personal bias. Jennifer Sandlin describes it much better with ‘community’. Biological kinship really is no big deal to the Moomins. Moominmamma treats the Moomintroll no better or worse than the other characters that have taken shelter with them. There are to my memory no instances where Moominpappa and Moominmamma attempt to raise Moomintroll, there are no preachy scenes where they try to instil particular values in him or, for example, express that they have made plans for Moomintroll’s future. Moomintroll won’t, as far as we know, inherit the Moominhouse and it’s not more his than anyone elses. There are no mention of Moominpappa’s parents, when he was travelling through the world in his young days he was entirely on his own. Meaning you can loose or break off relations with your parents if you must and still live a happy and fulfilling life.


Have a go at Moominland Midwinter. A character that is central to the plot of that particular book, dies. The narrative deals with it beautifully, and is written exactly with children in mind knowing that they may not be fully equipped to process this turn of events emotionally.


I agree with you that the Moomins treated all creatures with respect much like kinship. The thought of a Moomin protecting family instead of strangers who need help is a jarring thought. It just doesn’t fit! But I’m not sure I agree with your reading of the writer’s post.

The one place where the writer literally says “family values”, the writer is talking about the values of the Jansson family, and how that got the family through some very hard times (war, poverty, etc). This is a very different turn-of-phrase to the American use of “family values”, which has been used as cover for all manner of sins.

So my take on the use of “family” was the writer’s background story to Tove Jansson and how the values Jansson loved in her own family could be seen in her characters. In other words, I read the writer’s words as talking about Jansson’s personal history, not a reflection on “family values” in the books.

The timeless and universal stories of the Moomins are deeply rooted in the Jansson’s core family values of love, tolerance and adventure. [my emphasis]


Cool. That’s coming up in (counts) two more books! We’re on Moominpappa’s memoirs.


I like very few flag days but the one for Tove and Finnish art is my favorite. She pretty much openly broke the law for 15 years i.e. was in committed long term lesbian relationship most her life.


Sadly Drawn & Quarterly never got up to Moomin in Torrelorca in their The Complete Lars Jansson Comic Strip collection where Moomins try to buy marijuana but end up taking LBJ pills and as a result the whole Moomin family end up staring at the moon for a week and they miss their flight.


I haven’t read any of the Moomin novels, but in the past year finally binged every Moomin comic collection available from the Brooklyn Public Library and was totally swept away. Aside from everything wonderful about the characters and world others have mentioned the thing that changed me was all the flowers.

So many panels are laced, adorned, illuminated with flowers, ferns, thickets, fruit trees, pebbles, tufts of grass and other totally unnecessary but utterly delightful set dressing. It inspired (compelled?) me to level up my patience and appreciation for these kinds of details in my own stuff, and enriched every trip to the botanic gardens and even just the park. I’ve always loved moss and spring melt streams, but something about the Moomin world blew the doors off.


Even as a child the art style and general creepy feel of the Moomins made me uncomfortable.

But every Finn I meet is sooo proud of them that I can’t help but have second-degree affection for them


That’s from Mumintrollet (1969, Sweden).

And of course:


Is this Professor Jenny Sandlin, I’m wondering? If so, this is your old colleague in critical sustainability ed work writing in to say that he too has been a big fan of the Moomins and Tove’s work since discovering a decade ago. Have a huge collection of cups and figures. All the comics and all the Japanese animated episodes. Love all the characters but Snufkin for the win all day, agreed. Enjoyed reading this and all the shares in the comments! Thanks all!


As Alphaville commented, Moomins are definitely Big In Japan:


As a kid, I found the Hattifatteners and the Groke quite scary; however, I found that the quality of the artwork made them bearable. Now I’m a bit more grown up, I can understand that those characters were really just a bit alien, and not evil.


:heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: