July 6, 2011

Moomins are an unusual family

Moominpappa at Sea
by Tove Jansson

The Moomins have been around for over 60 years. Their stories are considered classics. Jansson's illustrations have a lot to do with it. The Moomins - Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Moomintroll - plump little shapes that look like hippos or cows - and Little My, with her sharp, mischievous features are all rather cute and cuddly.

The stories themselves are a little strange. They're often filled with mystical creatures and fantastical landscapes. In Moominpappa at Sea, Moominpappa moves his family to an island so he can be a lighthouse keeper. But he doesn't know how to operate the light. However, he insists on doing everything himself, even if he can't own up to his mistakes. 

Moominmamma indulges in her own interests - gardening and painting - while observant Little My does whatever she pleases. Moomintroll longs to play with the seahorses and worries about the Groke, a sad creature who tends to freeze the ground she walks upon.

The island itself seems to have a life of its own; the trees and boulders start walking away from the sea. It's possible that the island misses the original lighthouse keeper, who has turned into a frightened recluse (why, we don't know). After the Moomins throw him a birthday party, he is able to resume his duties once more.

Reading a Moomin story is a bit like being in a dream, where everything is not as it seems. Definitely an acquired taste. 

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