It is no secret that I’m a fan of those pudgy little white things called ‘Moomins’, given that I named my first-born daughter Tove. I’m slightly (only slightly) over the Moomin-esque merchandise that has proliferated in recent years and want to declare my position on the matter: I was into them way before they became, you know, a thing. Just like I wore floaty coats before Boho and collected an excess of emerald green cushions before ‘jewel’ colours started to appear on Houzz…
The fact is, as a child – and my mother will vouch for this – the only book I read for many years, on repeat, like a stuck record, was Tove Jansson’s Comet in Moominland. She tempted me with Blume, Dahl, Clearly, Fine and many other titans of the early 80s children’s book market, but to little effect. Quite simply, I wanted to stay in the valley – with Sniff, Snufkin and Moomintroll and the cave with the oil blanket and the sour muskrat and the Lonely Mountains and the comedic Hemulen and, best of all, the silk monkey. What even is a silk-monkey? I still don’t know, but I love her anyway.
Such a big subject – a comet hurtling towards the world, threatening to destroy everyone and everything – told in Jansson’s strange, smart way, but for me the story comes second to the magic of the place and its characters. The richness of this is helped by the illustrations – Jansson’s own – which were always as endearing to me as the text. Far from mere page decoration, they were instrumental in bringing Moomin Valley to life in my mind, which in turn, helped me stay there. And want to return there. Time and again.
So Comet in Moominland is my #worldbookday read of choice, but I’ll let you into a secret… my daughter, Jansson’s namesake, isn’t keen. She kind of tolerates it (for mummy’s sake), but I think she’d prefer it if I’d called her Joanne 😉