I was a lucky child. Unlike most of British children I wasn’t exposed the Moomins by creepy stop animated felt, Japanese cartoon interpretation or the slightly awkwardly written/translated novels. Looking at these versions of Tove Jansson’s creations, is it any wonder that illustrator Adam Cadwell included Moomin Papa in his list of childhood villains?
“It’s hard to describe but something about their vacant, piercing eyes and their emotionless, mouthless faces used to get me extremely worried and paranoid about what their true intentions were.”- Adam Cadwell
Fortunately for me, one my earliest memories is my mother reading to me in English - translating from Swedish - from Moomin, Mymble and Little My, the very edition she herself had owned as a child. This has recently be translated and reissued, and I feel so happy that British children will be exposed to this wonderful book. Yes, weird, but still utterly wonderful.
As adorable as the characters, narrative and prose created by Finnish-Swede Tove Janssson are, for me the real joy of the Moomins lie her original, delightfully quirky and innocently warped, illustrations. Like Maurice Sendak, or fellow Scandinavian Elsa Beskow, there can surely be little better than strange stories, exciting and engaging for the bizarre peril that permeates them, accompanied by beautiful illustration?
Anyway, what started me on this soliloquy of Moomin-love? Bury Art Gallery currently has an exhibition called Magical Moominvalley (23 October - 15 January 2011) celebrating Tove Jansson’s illustration. Get thee to Bury!