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A Summer of Moomins

“I lived on this great big housing estate in suburban Liverpool, from a working class background, and somehow this bohemian, upper middle-class, Finnish lesbian eccentric felt like she was speaking directly to me,” said Frank Cottrell Boyce.

“They are just fantastically enriching books. One of the things I really took from them was the importance of small pleasures, that life is really worth living if we’re just nice to each other and make really good coffee, and the pancakes are just right – then nothing else really matters in any substantial way.”

I love this quote, taken from a BBC News article on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson, artist, writer and creator of the Moomins. Her life is currently being commemorated in countries across the world, through Tove100.

Jansson, a Finnish woman born into a creative family and with a precocious talent that led to her first becoming published at the tender age of 14, translated her life into homely tales with a slow, melancholic air. The family life she longed for, her relationships with other women, and the loss of people close to her are all apparent in the unfolding of the Moomin sagas.

Jansson’s creation is a land populated by forests, shrill-voiced witch-like Mymbles and gentle creatures not dissimilar to hippos. I wasn’t quite the right age for the Moomin series when it hit our small screens – too old, and not quite old enough – but I’ve since developed a fascination for these humble little creatures. Over the years, there’s been a slow gathering of Moomin artefacts in our home.

2014-05-26 15.16.40.jpgcropMy favourite bookmark features Jansson’s characters, who trip merrily through whichever novel I have on the go.

2014-05-26 15.15.53.jpgcrop

MoominPapa keeps Austin and Gwen company during their nightly bathing session. This is the one piece of bath plastic I feel very, very happy about us owning:

2014-05-26 15.19.15.jpgcrop He’s an elegant gent, isn’t he?

Jansson’s characters are also to be found on several of our plates, bowls and mugs. We just love those little snub-nosed, snowy creatures.

So, I was pretty excited when I heard about two productions, to be staged this summer as part of Tove100. The first, Moominsummer Madness, played first at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, and then moved to the Polka Theatre, London, from 11 Jun-16 August 2014. It features “breathtaking puppetry, live music and humour”, and shows the familiar characters pulling together to brave a flood. (Disclosure: we were given press tickets to see this performance at the Polka and you can read the review here).

Image copyright Polka Theatre

Image copyright Polka Theatre

Unlike Frank Cotterell Boyce, for me the main attraction of Tove Jansson’s books is that – despite the fact that danger often lurks at the fringes of the plot (whether that’s impending apocalypse from a comet, or a big winter storm) – the characters face their difficulties with cheerful stoicism. Yes, there’s comfort in the familiar trappings of their home; but they’re not afraid to venture afield if needs be.

Just so long as they all, somehow, end up together. It’s a delightful message; one which we’re looking forward to hearing more of this summer.

Moomin Character 1

You can read more about the Moomins on this website:

Adventures in Moominland at London’s Southbank Centre

22 Comments

  • The Diary Of A Jewellery Lover
    May 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I remember the moomins! The illustrations were so simple but captured the stories perfectly.

    Reply
  • YouBabyMeMummy
    May 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Ah I love the Moomin in the boat, we would love one of those x

    Reply
  • Lisa M Prince
    May 27, 2014 at 8:19 am

    omg really? i need those boooks, i remember those soo well x

    Reply
  • Vikki Holness
    May 27, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Awww this brings back so many happy memories, the Moomins were a childhood favourite of mine! xxx

    Reply
  • Donna @OrdCyclingGirl
    May 27, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I have really fond memories of the moomins. They were simple and appealing. 🙂

    Reply
  • Jen aka Muminthemadhouse
    May 27, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I adore Moomins and always have

    Reply
  • Jenny @ The Brick Castle
    May 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I think I was the wrong age for the Moomins on TV. I remember it being on, but I was too old to want to watch it. We had a big Moomins book though at my Grandparents, and I loved that 🙂

    Reply
  • Polly
    May 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    i’ve been a huge moomin fan for years, and thankfully so are my kiddos!

    Reply
  • 40 year old domestic goddess
    May 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Awwww I loved them so much……..Beautiful books. Xxx

    Reply
  • LearnerMother
    May 27, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Although I know the name ‘the moomins’, the stories seem to have passed me by completely, I think I need to rectify this! Hope you have a great time at the show!

    Reply
  • TwinsplusTwo
    May 27, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    more fond memories here! Embarrassed to admit that I wrongly thought Janssen was a MAN!!

    Reply
  • Shell Louise
    May 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Awww I loved the Moomins when I was younger! Haven’t seen it for years.

    Reply
  • Emma TheMiniMesAndMe
    May 28, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I live in Northampton so I may have to pop to the theatre! I love the bath toy too x

    Reply
  • Nayna Kanabar (@SIMPLYF00D)
    May 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    I never read these maybe I missed out???

    Reply
  • Kara
    May 29, 2014 at 6:14 am

    I loved the Moomins as a child – can’t wait to introduce mine to them too

    Reply
  • wendy
    May 29, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I love the Moomins lots of happy memories. I didn’t realise you could get books, they will definitely be on my wish list x

    Reply
  • Emma Fahy Davis
    May 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve never heard of Moomins! But they sure do look like a lot of fun. I shall have to find out more about them!

    Reply
  • Clare @ Emmys Mummy
    May 30, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Oh gosh. I had totally forgotten about these dudes.
    Thank you for reminding me of my childhood

    Reply
  • Lori
    May 30, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    We have a few of the Moomin books that have been forgotten about on the shelf somewhere. This has made me want to get them out again. 🙂 x

    Reply
  • Laura
    May 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I don’t remember the Moomin books, but I do remember the TV series. I found it a bit strange to be honest, but it’s still a nice reminder of childhood

    Reply
  • Kizzy
    June 1, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I loved the Moomins and wow the 100th anniversary of the birth of its creator!

    Reply

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