By Caitlin Kelly
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.
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?