THOUGHTS ON: The World of Moominvalley

As created by Tove Jansson

“This is the way to start a new life, with a hurricane lamp shining at the top of the mast, and the coastline disappearing behind one as the whole world lies sleeping.”
Moominpappa at Sea

moominvalleyI’m a great believer that if one’s year begins with a Moomin, thereafter your mind will be composed and your reading diverse and balanced. I’m no philosopher, of course, and you would be unlikely to find such notional theories in the writings of Sartre or even Edward Westermarck, so it may be wise to take my advice with a swig of Moominmamma’s homemade Glögi.

The World of Moominvalley, written by Philip Ardagh, and with a Foreword by Frank Cottrell Boyce, is a delightful introduction to Moominland and the creatures living there. It also explores the world of its visionary creator, Tove Jannson – every page bustling with her original illustrations. It was a gift from my mother for my last birthday, and one which I will cherish and no doubt dip-into many times in the future.

The reader is familiarised with all the dearly loved (and lesser-known) characters. In addition to Moominpappa and his immediate family, we meet Moomintroll’s love interest, the Snorkmaiden, as well as Little My, Snufkin, Sniff, Too-ticky, Dweller Under the Sink and all the other residents of Moominvalley.

Between its glossy pages you will find chapters on Mysterious Creatures, Moomin-isms, Music in Moominvalley, and even Catastrophes and The Dark Side of Moominvalley. All the information has been gleaned from the eight volumes in the main Moomin cannon, but not from the strip cartoons or The Moomins and the Great Flood, which differ to some extent from what is generally considered to be the true Moomin books.

My aesthetically gorgeous hardback copy has a sumptuously designed die-cut cover featuring gold foil, which will certainly be adored by incorrigible Moomin fans and curious newbies alike. It would also appeal to both children and adults.

Pure Moomin magic!

“Everyone shall have a piece of magic for himself.”
Finn Family Moomintroll

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29 replies

  1. I can see the appeal of the new, and appreciate your incorrigible sense of humour. Furthermore, the book sounds like a treat for the young at heart. Nevertheless, in my opinion you are a philosopher- in a sense, everyone is. Personally, I enjoy objects which make me question things and shake me up a bit, but I do comprehend the urge for stability via diverse reading. Perhaps people could get the same outcome via smoking a pipe, but reading is healthier and can stand in for one of our five fruit and vegetables a day. To Moomins, peace, and good luck!

    • I take your point, John, we’re all philosophers in the sense that we speculate on the nature of things and seek truth – it’s just that I’m not quite up there with Aristotle and co. I’ve never smoked a pipe, so couldn’t possibly comment, and I’m not a lover of cabbage or brussels sprouts (was Descartes a greens man, I wonder?). However, Moomins, peace and good luck do it for me. Cheers! 😊

      • I must confess that I am unfamiliar with the diet of Descartes, but one of the reasons I admire Voltaire is that he had a great passion for gardening. I haven’t grown sprouts as yet, but I have been quite lucky with gooseberries. I think that you’re right in that all philosophers are not equally enlightening, but we must remember that elitists like Aristotle were writing about politics in a different social world. In other words, we should be careful what we glean from wisdom that was relevant when social structures were less inclusive. However, Aristotle was critical of usury, and many people today would be better off if money was simply used as a means of exchange as he recommended. Please don’t put your wisdom down as anyone who can achieve a synthesis between Moomin thought and blogging has got something going on.

  2. Wonderful review, Paula! I’ve always been curious about Moomins, as I’ve heard them mentioned before, but never fully grasped what they were. Seems like just my cup of tea. 🙂

  3. Lovely review, my friend. I now have this in my Book Depository cart waiting for me to push the order button. I can’t resist any longer, and I could use a comfort read, too, getting to know the Moomins. ♥️

  4. I really like your principle about starting the year with the Moomins – you just cannot go wrong with them. The only Moomin-related thing that I did not quite enjoy was a play adapted from one of the stories called The Fir Tree, which was the Christmas play at our local arts centre. It was quite sweetly done, with dexterity and clever puppeteering, but it was for the very young age group, so my children and I were nonplussed. The charm of the Moomin books is that they are not just for young audiences.

    • Damn right! It’s next to impossible to go wrong with a Moomin! 😉 I was vaguely aware of a Moomin stage adaption but know little about it – however, I suspect puppets could never quite live up to Tove’s art. I’m a bit of a Moomin purist and have never quite approved of the TV cartoons either. 😂

  5. I like your philosophy! Moomins are deceptively simple and actually deeply thought-provoking. Time for a re-read maybe… 😀

    • I’m glad someone approves of my philosophy, Karen. Frankly, I can’t see a single problem in the modern world that wouldn’t benefit from a sprinkling of Moomin wisdom! 😉 Hope you get time for that re-read.

  6. Moomin lover as a child. Unfortunately, our library does not carry them.

  7. I have never heard of these, but your review has certainly sparked my interest! Thanks for putting these on my radar! : )

  8. I haven’t read any Moomins yet, but dearly want to get involved with Tove Jannson – this looks like the perfect place to start, thank you I hadn’t come across this title before!

  9. This sounds delightful. I’ve never read any Moomin books but am very familiar with the characters since my mother read them as a child. We even have a Snorkmaiden fridge magnet which I love. I do plan to get some of the books, and I think once I read a couple, this one will be perfect to pick up. I’ve read one of Philip Ardagh’s Eddie Dickens books which I randomly picked up from an on sale pile. I think it was quite good fun-a play on the Pip and the convict episode from Great Expectations. Great review and great choice to begin the year with.

  10. Your philosophy is definitely one I can get on board with Paula 🙂

  11. Thank you for this wonderful article Paula. The Moomins are a cherished childhood memory of mine and you just brought it back.

    All the best

    P. S.: Thank you for following:)

  12. I came across Moominvalley when I was researching for my FInland posts and I was immediately hooked that I went deep into Wiki and reddit forums to know all I can. I am glad you love them as well.


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