Friday, December 21, 2018

Moominland Midwinter - Tove Jansson

Summary: Everyone knows the Moomins sleep through the winter. But this year, Moomintroll has woken up early. So while the rest of the family slumber, he decides to visit his favorite summer haunts. But all he finds is this strange white stuff. Even the sun is gone! Moomintroll is angry: whoever Winter is, she has some nerve. Determined to discover the truth about this most mysterious of all seasons, Moomintroll goes where no Moomin has gone before. (image and summary from goodreads.com)

My Review:  disclaimer--this is the fifth book in the Moomin series, and while you don't necessarily have to read them in any order, I would suggest doing so in order to fully understand and appreciate the characters.  However, today is midwinter, and I love Moomins, so therefore you get your introduction via Moominland Midwinter.

I love Tove's Moomin books.  Though they have been around for decades, I only discovered them last year and quickly devoured them all, plus the comics (and have read them a few times again since).  There is something so simple, yet so vastly deep about Moomin Valley and its inhabitants that captures one to the very core.  And this is one of my very favorite books of the series.

Moomins are adorable plump trolls that have decided to no longer to live behind stoves as their ancestors did, and live instead in a peaceful land called Moomin Valley.  As stated above, they hibernate all winter (this hearkens to the long and dark winters of the author's home in Finland).  However, our protagonist Moomintroll finds he cannot get back to sleep and decides to go out and discover this new white world.

And this is where, starting from this book, the Moomin series changes a little.  The first books are fun, silly romps that are utterly delightful, but in Moominland Midwinter, we start to get deeper, even existential thoughts.  Moomintroll's feelings throughout this book are something that have been felt by everyone, I think, at some time in their lives.  Moomintroll learns learns loneliness.  He learns anger.  He learns fear.  But then he also learns patience. He learns bravery.  He learns wonder.

Tove's books are filled with such fun, unique characters with species names (that often serve as the character name too) like Mymbles and Hemulens, Creeps and Snufkins, Joxters, Sniffs, Snorks, Whompers, Fillyjonks, and Tofts.  We get to meet a plethora of fun characters in this book, a particular favorite being Too-ticky, a relaxed and chill person who knows what she's doing.  All these characters gather in the wintry landscape, they work together, get on each other's nerves, aspire for greater things, and teach each other how to make it through the darkness.

Tove's illustrations throughout the book add so much life to the already lively text, a little doodle of a character here, and then a full page masterpiece there. I said I discovered Moomins last year, but in truth it was a few years before via a picture on the internet, though I didn't know it was Moomins until reading this book:



Overall I highly recommend this book, along with all the other books of the Moomin series, because there's just something about them that touches the inner core of what it means to be alive.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

For the sensitive reader: There is the death of a minor character, and this scene also contains The Lady of the Cold who could be scary.  Another character called The Groke has been known to terrify kids for decades, and she has a big part in this book.

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