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VINE VOICEon December 9, 2014
Most great children's literature wasn't written strictly for children. Think of A. A. Milne, L. Frank Baum, E.B. White, Dr. Seuss, Wanda Gag, Daniel Pinkwater and of course Tove Jansson. All of these authors share the ability to write books that not only appeal to children and young adults, but also to fully grown adults. Tove Jansson's Moomins remain Scandanavian icons to this day. Though not as immediately recognized in the United States as in some other countries, a Moomin renaissance of sorts has occurred in 2006 following Drawn and Quarterly's publication of the complete Moomin comic strips that ran from 1954 to 1974. A series of books predated these strips and after an initial flop, "The Moomins and the Great Flood" in 1945, Moomin-mania finally took the world by storm in 1946 with the unforgettable "Comet in Moominland." Though Jansson ceased the series in 1970, the momentum never let up. Moomin operas, animated television shows and even a theme park followed. Jansson, who would have turned 100 this year, passed away in 2001 as the Moomins continued to capture the imaginations of new generations.

Anyone who reads "Comet in Moominland" will quickly discover the appeal of these marshmallowly hippopotamus-like creatures. Their strong personalities, endless curiosity and intrepid adventurousness take them and their friends everywhere, even into grisly danger. Things begin as Sniff, a ratlike creature that shares some of Piglet's traits, finds a mysterious path leading to somewhere so potentially interesting that he has to run and tell Moomintroll. Here they meet the silk monkey and eventually find a cozy cave. One night during a rain, Moominpapa lets in the muskrat, a pensive philosopher who claims to "sit and think about how unnecessary everything is." He tells of dark forebodings and of something "horrible and unnecessary" that will happen. All the while the Moomintroll, Sniff and the Silk-Monkey keep encountering symbols resembling stars with tails. The muskrat tells them of comets and that the Professors in the Observatory on the Lonely Mountains would know something about whether the comet would strike earth. Thus begins a grand Odyssean tale that leads them to aggressive crocodiles, Snufkin, a giant lizard, a deep watery hole, Hemulens who collect obsessively, a giant eagle and finally to the cigarette-laden Observatory (the professors like to smoke, how so 20th century). When they find out the comet will arrive in a short number of days, they head back home because "Moominmama," the matriarch, "will know what to do." Along the way Moomintroll saves a lovely Snork Maiden from a poisonous plant, they manage to buy items in a strange store despite the fact that they don't have a cent, they attend a dance lit by glow worms, cross the dried up ocean with stilts, nearly escape an octopus and arrive in Moominland just as everyone flees in terror away from it. Throughout, the comet looms over everything in a creepy, ominous way. It gets larger and larger and more and more intense. Yikes. Not to give anything away, but the comet does come to Moominland, Sniff spills his coffee, the cave really comes in handy and the Muskrat sits on the cake, though it was unnecessary anyway. Other things happen too, of course, such as the ending, but one must consult the book for succor. All along, the story moves with the pace of a hummingbird's heart and will even keep adults, supposedly secure in their maturity and dignified vintage, enraptured. Incredible fun.

This series by Square Fish begins with "Comet in Moominland," even though it's technically the second Moomin book. The beginning even references the flood from the real first book "(which is another story)". But the spine has a "1" on it, signifying the first book. Go figure. The details probably lie outside of most people's pay scales, but, in any case, seven more Moomin books follow "Comet in Moominland," all equally acclaimed. They encompass adventure, morality, love, family, happiness, dread, philosophy, doom, insights into humanity, humor, sadness and just life in general treated in a fantastically addictive yet serious cartoony manner. Moomin-mania is no mystery.
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on June 13, 2012
Oh, where to begin?! This book, and the others in the Moomin series (though I haven't read ALL of them, I can only surmise that the ones I haven't read are similar in greatness) are just wonderful. I am the mother of a bright six-year-old who has enjoyed having chapter books read to her since she was two. It has at times been difficult to find chapter books that meet my exacting discrimination. There are a few things that I look for (or look to make sure they aren't there) in these types of books, to wit:

1) Well-written. I want there to be good sentence structure, good grammar, and VOCABULARY. Many writers of young people's fiction tend to write down to the child's level; I believe that the child can rise to the level of the book's writing (obviously, to an extent - I wouldn't expect my kindergartner to understand Crime and Punishment). And leave the slang, out please.

2) Timelessness. I am not interested in books that refer to pop culture, technology, current events, etc. Even books that were written eighty years ago, such as Swallows and Amazons (Godine Storyteller), can be utterly relevant, if they are focused on character and adventure instead of iPads and Justin Beiber (whoever he is).

3) Gentleness, Respect. I wouldn't want my child to hang out with an ill-behaved, discourteous, mean-spirited little brat, would you? So why spend time with them in books? For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would want to read (or let their children read) something like Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones, No. 1), in which this utterly obnoxious child uses the word "stupid" about forty times on each page and is so rude and disrespectful to everyone around her that I couldn't get further than ten pages in before I threw the book away. Gag! Hey, writers - this is not funny! If you want to portray "real" children (who are by no means always walking around with their little halos saying "Yes, ma'am") and you want to be funny about it, take a lesson from Beverly Cleary in The Ramona Collection, Vol. 1: Beezus and Ramona / Ramona the Pest / Ramona the Brave / Ramona and Her Father [4 Book Box set]. She manages to convey the reality of being (and parenting) a spirited child without making her character into an antagonist into the bargain.

4)Adventure, Excitement. Not much to add here. The plot has to keep moving. Often, this is best accomplished in books for younger children by making the book into a series of adventures, each one getting resolved as the book goes on.

Well, "Comet in Moominland" has all of that and more (as does Finn Family Moomintroll (Moomintrolls), book 2 in the series. The characters are all individual, unique "people" (imaginary creatures) with very distinct, yet believeable personalities. The main characters (Moomintroll, Sniff, the Snork and the Snork Maiden, possibly Snufkin) are all "children", and there are "adult" figures that come and go throughout the book as well, and they have a high degree of freedom. For example, when Moomintroll and Sniff (a small, treasure-obsessed animal reminding me somewhat of a rather feistier version of Piglet in The World of Pooh: The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner (Pooh Original Edition)) decide to go out on an adventure to the tallest mountain in the world, Moominmamma simply packs them a lunch and their "woolly trousers" and bids them farewell.

It's fantasy fiction at its best, but for the 4-to-8 set. (Of course, adult lovers of juvenile fiction will adore the Moomins and the world Tove Janssen has created here.)

This book has mystery, dangerous creatures, daring rescues, treasure, peril, friendship and delight by the bucketload. The dialog is superlative, the humor is wry and witty (and yet fully accessibly to children), and the meanness is kept to a minimum: the Snork can get a little snarky, and characters do occasionally tell one another to "shut up", which is unpleasant, but for this reader, those things were a small part of it, and served as "teachable moments" ("Gee, the Snork isn't acting very nice, is he?" and so forth).

I highly recommend this book, and the next one in the series, and probably the rest of them as well, although I haven't read those yet. If Amazon had SIX stars, Comet in Moominland would get them all from me! (And my kid loves it too! She even ASKS to go to bed earlier so that we have more time to read!)
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on December 9, 2010
I first read Moomin when I was 6 years old. I am now 32 and still own the copy I read as a child. Moreover, I occasionally re-read it to comfort myself, when I want to feel cosy and positive.

The Moomin characters are kind and goodhearted, they are adventurous and loyal to their friends. The Moomin family welcomes every guest, friend or neighbour into their home, they accept and embrace everyone oddities and offer every newcomer comfort, cookies, warm milk and a bit of constant adventure. This book has no malice in it, and non of the contemporary commercialism or greed. But it has plenty of what every kid needs: adventure, friendship and good heart.
If your kids are anywhere between 5 and 12 you can wholeheartedly entrust them into the hands of the Moomins. This is really the best book one can get as a present.

I think this is the first instalment of the Moomin stories. Moomin and his friend set off to an observatory in far away mountains in order to learn whether a Comet will crash into their favourite valley. On the road they meet adventures, challenges, strange creatures and make new friends. Will they make it home on time to warn everyone and take precaution against the comet? Will the comet crash into Moomin- valley? The readers are invited to hold tight as they follow Moomin, Snufkin and Sniff on a trip of adventures, exploration and friends making.
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on November 10, 2000
My sister and I read the Moomin fantasy stories in the 1960s, when we were children. We STILL share jokes about plot lines today! When my son was 5, I bought them and we read them. We could hardly put them down, and he wanted to read the entire series through again the minute we finished. I hadn't realized how entertaining they were for adults. Maybe it's the wry humor of Finland coming through. While these are chapter books, they do have some absolutely charming illustrations. My son ... prefers them to Harry Potter (which he is hearing aloud again at school). It's best to read them kind of in order, as there is a time line to the books insofar as characters are introduced. Comet in Moominland is the first one, in my opinion, and Moominpappa's Memoirs is last. You can read the others in any order, in between. Moominsummer Madness was a little bit weak, I thought; but the others are just terrific, children's classics! Also great take home messages subtly presented, such as: even orphans can find a family; friends help friends out of jams; people go through moods, and it's OK; people who look scary and behave strangely, can maybe just be misunderstood. I credit these books as major contributors to his outstanding love for reading. The characters are beautifully drawn, diverse and imperfect; while there is a mother, a father, and a son, family structure is not stereotyped; the plot lines keep your attention; and the prose created by the translators is superb. They may be hard to find in libraries but they are WELL WORTH the search (or purchase).
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on December 3, 2007
I too grew up reading these books, then bought them for my own children to read, and now still enjoy reading them from time to time - sure it is an easy read for an adult, but what better way to spend a dark, rainy day then to curl up with a fun book that brings back all those warm and happy thoughts of childhood?!

I am so delighted to find that these are still available today and recommend them to everyone, young and old alike.

If you're intrested in more great Scandinavian literature, I highly recommend Kay Nielsen, who published a book by the name of "East of The Sun, West Of The Moon" filled with fantastically magical Scandinavian folk/fairy tales and his stunning artwork! I am not sure if it is still available to buy but should be in your local library. If not if you request it they can probably send for a copy.

Hope this was helpful!!:-)

~Most Happy~
¸.·' .·'¨¨))
((¸¸.·' ..·' -:¦:- ~Lady Anne~
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·'
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on August 24, 2012
I don't usually leave reviews for products... too busy. However, I just have to let everyone know what a wonderful book series this is for kids. This set of books is charming and well written. I was so happy to find it again after so many years.

First, this series is for kids between about 7 and 10, a hard age to find good reading material for. Although there is adventure and a little darkness in the plots, the main characters are plucky and inventive. They tackle issues about independence and diversity in a way that makes it seem natural.

I read this series when I was a child and have now bought it for my 7 year old son, and plan to pass it on to my daughter when she gets older.
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on May 15, 2015
Perfect to read as an adult, as an adult to a child, or for a child to read alone; Comet in Moominland is intelligent, witty, humourous, where the scarier aspects of life and the reality of personalities are tempered by cozy undertones and happy,loving characters. Replete with adorable illustrations and realistic dialogue- altogether a wonderful story.
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on July 26, 2016
A classic. An incoming comet threatens Moominvalley, and Moomin and his companions set forth to see if the danger is real. A dangerous journey, new friends, and a happy ending. What more can you ask? Tove Jansson at her best...
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on January 25, 2012
I bought this for a not quite nephew. My sister and I were introduced to the Moomin clan by a Finnish babysitter. We have been Moomin fans ever since. This introduces the characters, as they deal with a comet that may, or may not, destroy their valley. Like all of them it is well written, witty, and just a little subversive. The Moomins have their own kind of quirky logic that would appeal to a certain kind of child, or adult. Have fun with the Moomin family. I've been doing it for years.

OH! Moominsummer Madness is one of the definative works on the theater. But it comes later in the series. Read this one first.
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on December 2, 2015
A children's book that adults can enjoy immensely! Striking black and white prints by the author add much to the story. Tove Jansson has created a whole world full of great characters that we can recognize in our own lives in spite of the sometimes magical events.
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