52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 1999
I remember my dad reading the Moomintroll books to me when I was very young. When I was a bit older, I read them again, myself. Now I'm 21, and thought I'd try reading this book once more, after all these years. I've just finished reading it, and it was great. Like most of the best children's fiction, it also appeals perfectly to adults, and although it was written over 40 years ago, I don't think it seems dated, really. There's a lot of sharp humour, and memorable situations/characters. A lot of the themes in the book seem perfectly in-line with amazing childhood exploits; Discovery, exploration... The book surprised me with how ahead-of-its-time it seemed. I don't think you'd find an English book from 1950 that is so liberated and foreward-thinking. Anyway, what I'm (clumsily) trying to say is, I loved this book, and will now read the other books in the series. One last thing: Tove Jansson's illustrations are also excellent, and perfectly complement the story.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2001
I discovered this book while rummaging through a flea market bookshelf 5 years ago. I had never heard of Jansson or the Moomins, but was looking for something to read to my daughter, who was then 6. With nothing more than an interesting cover illustration to recommend it, I took a 10cent gamble.
Within the first 10 pages I realized that I had stumbled onto something quite remarkable, by the middle of the book both my daughter and I were engulfed in Moominland, and by the end I went out to scour bookshelves and web sites to get my hands on all the other Moomin books.
Quite simply, this series (and this book in particular) ranks with Winnie-the-Pooh and the Alice books as the truest, wisest, funniest, and most beautiful books for kids ever written. Tove Jannson has created a world populated with myriad creatures possessing a variety and depth of character unrealized in any other children's series I can think of, and rarely reached in adult fiction.
Of particular note are her numerous and varied female characters, unheard of in American and English children's lit...Little My is brash, determined, unrepentant, and spoiling for a good fight. Moominmamma is warm and nurturing without ever being sappy or sentimental. Long sufering Misabel looks only at the bluer side of life and relishes a good cry. The Snork Maiden is vain and frivolous. Emma is cantankerous, crochety, and uninterested in changing to suit anyone else's agenda. How many other books can you read to a young girl with that variety of female characters? And that's just the beginning of the list. The male characters are equally as varied, fallible, goofy, and complex.
Character aside, Jansson's sense of adventure, wild imagination, bleak Scandinavian humor, and peaceful world view make these books a marvel to read. Her illustrations are gorgeous, plentiful, and a perfect compliment to her writing.
My daughter is 11 now and doesn't require a parent to read to her anymore, yet she still asks to hear the Moomin books read aloud.
My advice...give Harry Potter a rest, and treat yourself and family to real classic children's lit. You won't be sorry. And if you like this one, Moominland Midwinter and Comet in Moominland are great next choices.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2005
My love for Moomins started when I was 6-7. In Poland, where I come from, Moomins were very popular. After my Mom went through all 8 books, and me and my younger brother did not have enough of them, she started to invent new adventures of Moomin, Snufkin, and the rest of the pack. I wish I had noted all these stories...
Anyway, this book is a good starting point, even though, chronologically, it is NOT the first one. You will see the Moominvalley at its best, full of adventures. "Finn Family Moomintroll" is a set of loosely connected stories; you can read one at a time without having to remember what happened last, or caring what will happen next (now, your child WILL insist that you keep on reading when you finish a story, you can be sure of that!).
It is interesting how the Swedish names (I think Tove Jansson wrote the original in Swedish, even though she lived in Finland) got translated into different languages. I will give you English and Polish examples below. Can anyone else post here other translations?
Moomintroll - Muminek
Moominpappa - Tato Muminka
Moominmamma - Mama Muminka
Sniff - Ryjek
Snufkin - Wloczykij
Groke - Buka
Muskrat - Pizmowiec
Thingumy and Bob - Topik i Topcia
Snork - Migotek
Snork Maiden - Panna Migotka
Hemulen - Paszczak
Misabel - Bufka
Too-ticky - Too-tiki
Little My - Mala Mi
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2004
The Moomin books are extremely unique in the realm of children's literature. They are clean, endearing, thoughtful, a little dark, and always utterly enchanting. I am in high school now, and I still love to read these books.
I first recieved a copy of Finn Family Moomintroll from an aunt who read and loved them in HER childhood, spent in Japan. I devoured it, and promptly begged my mother to find more. Now, several years later, I am still held spellbound by these books. They are quirky, charming, full of clever witticisms and simple, wonderful turns of phrase, and are among the many hidden gems which so many cynical youngsters will scorn for lack of blood.
This book, though contains plenty of fun and even a little revenge (provided by Snufkin, of course,) but of course the characters are forever polite. Better yet, they set a good example for kids without shoving sticky-sweet morals down their throats. In addition, by setting the story around a theatre - which the Moomin family knows absolutely nothing about - Jansson gives the reader a humorous edge over the characters, which helps keep the story moving and the reader amused.
These books should be introduced to young, thoughtful children, older, shy children, college students, people going through mid-life crises, and/or those in rest homes. They are to be read in a comfy chair before a fire on a gray, rainy day, or with the snow coming down and a mug of cocoa. These books are only for those who have open, quiet minds, and for people ready to be enchanted and amazed.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2005
Finn Family Moomintroll is one of a series of delightful books by Tove Jansson now available in translation. Distinctly Scandinavian in feel the book is unlike anything I have read in children's literature. The stories focus on the Moominfamily (Moominpapa, Moominmama, and Moomintroll) and their extended family of guests who came to live with them and never left, Sniff, Snuffkin and the Muskrat (the philosopher). They have episodic adventures with their neighbors the Snork and the Snorkmaiden (who look remarkably like the moomins) The Moomintrolls are illustrated to look rather like small hippopotamuses.
The author takes an informational tone sometimes offering footnotes on the Moomintroll homes or customs. The chapters are short tales that connect to one another which makes them ideal for reading aloud. (Think of the short chapter adventures of Paddington Bear as an analogy.) All of the fantastical things that occur are portrayed as perfectly normal in Moominland. What is most enticing about the tales are the charming illustrations and the feeling that reading about Moominland creates; it is at once otherworldly and very much in tune with nature. While the adventures are exciting there is never a sense of overwhelming danger, which give the series gentleness. This volume involves the mysterious and potentially threatening Hobgoblin but even his interaction with the residents of Moominland turns out to be surprisingly generous.
Smaller children who enjoy fanciful books will like to have these stories read aloud and older children and the adults who read these stories will find humor in the footnotes or the "philosophy" of the Muskrat. These are clearly Scandinavian classics that have not yet reached a wider audience in America.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2002
These books are nuts!!! Moomins! Fillyjonks! Grokes! It's insanity! How could a single mind invent such hallucinatory fantasy and still keep their sanity (relatively) intact?? The mind boggles.
I am 29 years old and into a wide variety of weird and wonderful pop culture and I would definitely place the works of Tove Jansson in the same class as Genet,Burroughs,Bugakov and Tolkien. No joke!
To explain them to the uninitiated, I would say something like...imagine a Winnie the Pooh novel composed by Dali...then double the level of surrealism! Convinced??
Finn Family Moonintroll is probably the best, narrowly beating out Comet in Moominland, a close second. In this story, Moomintroll and his friends find a magic hat which brings them all sorts of mischief and absurdity. I think I first read this thing in 1982 and it just about haunted my every waking moment. The Moomin series are books that are NOT just for the kids to enjoy. Adults with a vivid imagination would ravenously lap this sort of thing up and beg for more.
Forget Harry Potter kiddies! This is where it's at!!!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2001
I was first exposed to the animated Moomin while visiting my penpal in Finland; I was all too delighted to have it assigned in a Scandanavian FairyTale class. This book can be read by both children and adults with equal glee. The straightforward adventures of the Moomins and their friends will delight children, and the wit and sly pokes at humans will amuse adults. Also, it is an excellent introduction to children's Finnish literature--it can never become outdated.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2003
So far there have been eight Moomin books translated ino English. All are splendid. I don't want to draw comparisons, because they are all so good, and each in a different way, but the last two are perhaps the best - all are very definitely five star. They tell of the adventures of a family of little trolls in, mainly the forests of Finland but other places as well, including fairgrounds, theatres, and uninhabited islands, along with all sorts of other strange creatures such as hattifattners, fillyjonks, hemulens and astronomers. A perfect blend of adventure and domestic warmth, evoked by an endlessly original and imaginative writer, who knows "The Usefulness of Everything," in a world slightly - not too much - transmogrified but still recognisable
Full of warmth, wit, wisdom and delight. They should probaby be read in order as the characters become more complicated as time goes on, but Finn Family Moomintroll is a great place to start. The pictures (author Tove Jansson was also a professional illustrator and stage designer) are the perfect compliment to the stories. If you don't know them, buy them and your lives will be richer.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 1999
I received this book as a Christmas present in the early 50s from a Finnish family whom my mother helped through the hard times of WWII and after with her version of CARE packages.
Moominsummer Madness became my favorite of all my books--read until the red hardboard cover faded to pink and the binding frayed. My personal favorite interaction is Moomintroll and the Fillyjonk at her hut in the spruce forest on Midsummer's Eve. When I first read it, I didn't have a clue what Midsummer was or what a spruce tree looked like, but I immediately resolved to have a life full of both as soon as I could escape from Eisenhowerian Oklahoma.
And I did just that.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 1999
When I was growing up in Japan back in 70's, "MoominTroll" was a big thing - they had animated TV series too. As soon as I'd learned how to read my dad bought me a full set of Moomin books. I remember as a first grader how hard I tried to read all words in the books - little by little, irritated sometimes for my poor reading skill since I was so fascinated by all the adventures in the Moomin Valley and was so impatient to know what they'd do next. If I'm not mistaken there were a few comic book series by same author/illustrator, Tove Jansson, about some wacky happenings in the Moomin Valley. All the copies I had had been lost long time ago. Wonder if anybody has any clue??