broadsideblog

Moomins!

In books, children, culture, design on May 17, 2014 at 12:08 am

By Caitlin Kelly

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In the interest of pure silliness, for those of you yet to meet them, here are the Moomins, a series of nine books by Finnish author Tove Jansson, published between 1945 and 1993.

The stories revolve around a large family of Moomins — who look a little like hippopotamuses — and their quirky friends and companions.

If you fly Finnair to Japan, your plane’s livery may sport Moomins; even the President of Finland has been seen wearing a Moomin watch.

Japan recently opened a cafe where you can — of course! – share a table with a very large stuffed Moomin.

Here’s a recent story from the Financial Times, reviewing two biographies of their creator:

It was only when the third volume in the series, Finn Family Moomintroll, came out three years later in 1948 that the Moomins begin their ascent to international fame. By the 1960s Jansson’s creation was manifesting as TV cartoons, stage plays and a bewildering range of licensed merchandise. There were picture books and also a widely syndicated newspaper strip, which Jansson wrote and drew herself before handing over responsibility to her younger brother Lars.

The Moomins remain big business. All the books are in print and sell healthily. The Finnish city of Turku boasts a theme park, Moomin World, where you can visit the characters’ houses and have your photograph taken with actors in costume. There is even a shop in London’s Covent Garden peddling nothing but what one might call “Moominery”.

The stories have also exerted an influence on many modern writers, for adults as well as children. Ali Smith, Jeanette Winterson and Maggie O’Farrell are self-professed Moomin fans. Philip Pullman has called Jansson a “genius”…

After I mentioned my Moomin-love to Jose, my husband bought me two Moomin books for Christmas, and this great mug, from which I drink my tea and coffee most days.

How can you feel gloomy with a Moomin in the house?

And guys — check it out! — there’s a 40 percent off sale this weekend at this site, with everything possible Moomin-related.

Do you (still) have a beloved children’s book or character in your life?

  1. I’m not sure if you’d call them children’s book characters, but I’m a huge and forever and ever fan of anything Archie. Jughead is my favorite, but I adore the whole gang!

  2. I love the Moomins! My grandmother cut out the weekly strips and bound them into a scrapbook for my mother and her siblings and it survived the decades till I laid hands on it a while back. Thanks for bringing back a cherished memory!

  3. The world is full of such treasure troves.

  4. I love the Moomin books! I read them a lot when I was around the ages of 7 – 8.

    That Moomin coffee cup is fun and cheery. I would like one of those. :)

    • I haven’t cracked my Moomin books from Christmas…maybe on vacation. Seems about the right speed. :-)

      I’m sure the site I linked to will have Moomin mugs. They have Moomin sheets!

      • I’ve just looked at the site. Wow, they really do sell all things Moomin! I love the Moomin plates and they have a vast selection of mugs with all sorts of characters: the Hattifatteners, Little My, the Hemulen, Moominpappa….. I think I could easily spend a lot of money at that site. ;)

      • I love the names of all the characters…

  5. “Finn Family Moomintroll” was one of my favourite books as a kid. And has never lost its charm.

  6. Flashback memory! I’m walking into the neighborhood library to pluck another Moomin book off the shelf to read. I can’t decide between Mrs Piggle Wiggle or Beverly Cleary’s stories.

    • Yay! For me it was Nancy Drew — sent every week when I was away at summer camp. I would choose eight books before I left, then wait each week for fresh material to arrive.

  7. how sweet and charming. we could all use a little moomin in our lives. i still love sock monkeys for some reason and always have been drawn to them. as soon as i see one, i automatically smile.

  8. Love the moomins! I enjoyed some of her non-moomin work too, especially her short stories.

  9. I have watched half of this so far and liked it:

    Moomintroll & the Comet movie (2010):

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1606636/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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