Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Muumibuumi, or the delights of Tove Jansson

Bewildered by the number of children's books out there? You are not alone. The Guardian column The Book Corner devoted the last year's worth of articles to "building a brilliant children's collection." Dip into them for paeans to forgotten classics as well as more modern delights.

I would particularly like to highlight the latest entry which explores the pleasures of the Finn Family Moomintroll series by Tove Jansson. A Swedish Finn, Jansson wrote her timeless and entertaining series primarily during the 1940s and 50s. It is ideal for readers in the middle and upper elementary grades, though younger children can enjoy it as a readaloud (she also created a comic strip version for teens and adults).

Moomins are gentle, lovable creatures who resemble hippos. They inhabit an idyllic, pastoral world that evokes Winnie-the-Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood with a Nordic twist.

While these books are not widely read in the United States, they are a beloved staple in Sweden and Finland and the cartoon version is popular in places as farflung as Poland and Japan. The Moominworld theme park has a website with activities for children!

If you haven't yet visited the whimsical world of the Moomins, go find yourself a copy of Comet in Moominland and by the time we're in the midst of our next snowstorm, you should be able to bury yourself in Moominland Midwinter, one of the most evocative wintertime books I know.
Oh, and what is "muumibuumi"? It is my new favorite Finnish word that refers to the huge worldwide surge in popularity the Moomintrolls experienced in recent decades!

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