The Moomins have taken up long-term residence in our house! Moomins and their friends come from the imagination of Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson (pronounced “tova yan-sun”). Moomins look like bi-pedal hippopotamuses with minimal clothing, but they convey a range of personalities: Moominmama is “highly moral but broad-minded,” Moominpapa is a storyteller who imagines himself to have a wild, stormy past, and their son, Moomintroll, is a good-natured, trusting soul whose curiosity provides the momentum for adventures. The Moomins have various friends and acquaintances, too, from the hot-tempered Little My to the sanguine wanderer Snufkin.
A few characters are foreboding and mysterious, too. Hattifatteners are ghost-like figures resembling long white socks with eyes and “jazz hands”, and they are drawn to electrical storms. Most of the characters are frightened of Hattifatteners, but after I came home from errands to find that my daughter had taped paper eyes onto one of her white socks, I cannot help but think of them with affection. The eight chapter-books (of which one is a collection of short-stories) are both dreamy and grounded, melancholic and joyful. My husband reports that the comics, assembled into six collections, are more lighthearted overall.
Over the winter holiday break, my husband took our daughter to a coffee-shop, where she brought out her sketchpad to draw Moomins. At the next table over, my husband heard two women talking in Japanese. When they happened to see my daughter’s drawings, my husband heard several exclamations of, “Moomin!” in their conversation. Moomins have inspired loyal devotion from fans worldwide, and in Finland, there is both a Moomin World theme park in Naantali,and a Moomin Museum in Tampere (English translations are available for both sites).
Here are some of the delightful Moomin-inspired creations I’ve found in my internet searches:
“All Small Beasts Should Have Bows in Their Tails” –Snufkin’s favorite mouth-organ/harmonica spring-time song, performed by a band called The Hatifatteners:
A Hattifattener crocheted with glow-in-the-dark yarn, by Snuffykin’s Journal (includes the pattern)
Did you grow up with the Moomin books? Are you curious to try them out? The first Moomin book I read was Stories from Moominvalley, but many people start with A Comet in Moominland.
Farida Dowler makes dolls and tells stories in Seattle, Washington, USA. You may find her dolls on Etsy: Alkelda Dolls. Farida maintains a storytelling and song blog at Saints and Spinners. While Farida aspires to be like the character of Snufkin, she is actually more like Moominmama.