- Publisher: Sort of Books; Main edition (2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1908745134
- ISBN-13: 978-1908745132
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Moomins and the Great Flood (Moomins Collectors' Editions) Hardcover – 2001
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With her recurring Moomin characters, Jansson creates an amazingly realistic and unique emotional tone of childhood that is melancholic and comfortingly secure at the same time. Periodic frights and crises in her books are met with brave resolve both by loving, matter-of-fact Moominparents and Moominchildren who are self-assured but also well-mannered and thoughtful. There is a comparison to be made of the Babar series to the loving security of the Moomin family - but the Moomins are a bit more silly, and creative, and philosophical, more verbose, and much more sophisticated emotionally. Each of Jansson's characters displays some complexity and mystery; faults, follies, prejudices... I find it fun to talk about these nuances of character with my kiddo.
In the Moomins and the Great Flood, you'll encounter a boy and his mother who together face the search for a missing parent, a frightening swamp serpent, bad weather, near disasters in boats, grumpy birds, new friends, tummy aches, dark forests, a fairy creature, and a prescient Willy Wonka** character. All ends well.
There are many, many illustrations in this book. Nary a spread without at least one of Jansson's wonderful and simple line drawings. There are numerous plates with her greyscale wash paintings beautifully reproduced with multiple ink tones. The illustrations are slightly naive, a feature I enjoy in children's books as it is not intimidating for young artists. You can see where Jansson continued to evolve the physiology of her Moomins as the series went on.
This particular volume in the series is the very first Moomin book for children, and lacks the caustic tone and sass of her Moomin newspaper comic strips. There is a wonderful balance in her Moomin children's books, between action and feelings.
**Read on if you are a children's book nerd like myself!**
Having read the Moomin series in the 1970s, my seven-year-old self probably assumed at the time that it was new. In fact this particular, seminal volume in the series was started in 1939 and finished near the end of WWII. In this book Jansson, who was (in age) a contemporary of Roald Dahl, seems to invent the character Willy Wonka, describing with her delicate pen and ink/wash drawings a lonely gentleman in a top hat who has created a fanciful man-made edible universe with rivers of lemonade and sugar grass. Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was not published until the mid-1960s. Wow! I wonder if they ever communicated, or shared some other creative connection. Jansson's characters lack the unredeemable cynicism of some of Dahl's creations. The Moomins, after all, while very anthropomorphized, are still animals mostly interacting in the natural world, whereas Dahl's protagonists are usually woefully flawed human beings.
As an American who has cast a longing eye over the Atlantic since girlhood, I found this book delightfully "Euro." Perhaps only Europe-infatuated Americans can feel the weight of this term. What I mean is that the book is quirky, surprising, atmospheric and weird, in just the right ways. My American-ness seems so pragmatic and boring when juxtaposed with such splendid Euro-hood.
What really captured my imagination about The Moomins and the Great Flood is the book's wonderful quality of creating intriguing characters and landscapes that seem simultaneously sinister and safe, hostile yet inviting. I love when books do that to me, gently urge me to enter into their worlds, at my own peril, perhaps, or maybe for my own good.
And the pictures! They are so wonderful. All I wanted to do was put on some ambient, slightly dissonant music and stare at them. (Again, Euro.) Tove Jansson's artwork is beguiling, and there's pretty much an image on every page.
A beautiful book.
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Please note that Tove Jansson was not Scandinavian but Finnish. Finland is not a Scandinavian country.