Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson.
How exciting it is to find the perfect read! Yesterday was my birthday and I went book-shopping: for a while I've been hunting Moomin books having read and enjoyed one quite a while ago (sadly I can't find the book I read), and I wanted to revisit Moominland. I found Finn Family Moomintroll and read it last night and this morning, and, oh, it was absolutely perfect! I am now on a mission to find my lost Moomin book (I believe it was Moominsummer Madness) and collect the others (and it is better to be a collector than an owner, as Moomintroll observed in this book).
Finn Family Moomintroll was of course written by Tove Jansson, a Finnish author who wrote the Moomin books in Swedish. It was published in 1948 (original title: Trollkarlens hatt) and followed The Moomins and the Great Flood (Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen, 1945) and Comet in Moominland (Kometjakten, 1946). It follows Moomintroll and his family and begins with a preface, and this enchanting passage that had me hooked:
One grey morning the first snow began to fall in the Valley of the Moomins. It fell softly and quietly, and in a few hours everything was white.
Moomintroll stood on his doorstep and watched the valley nestle beneath its winter blanket. 'Tonight,' he thought, 'we shall all settle down for our long winter's sleep.' (All Moomintrolls go to sleep about November. This is a good idea, too, if you don't like the cold and the long winter darkness). Shutting the door behind him, Moomintroll stole in to his mother and said:
'The snow has come!'
'I know,' said Moominmamma. 'I have already made up all your beds with the warmest blankets....'
It is hibernation time for the Moomins and no wonder: I looked up sunrise / sunset times for Helsinki - on midwinter's day sunrise is at 09.23 (08.03 for London) and sunset is 15.12 (15.53 for London) with an average temperature of 1° (high) / -4° (low) compared with London's average of 9° / 5° in December. Jansson goes on,
Then everyone crept into his bed and, making a cosy next for himself, pulled his blanket over his ears and thought of something nice.... Outside the snow fell, thick and soft. It already covered the steps and hung heavily from the roofs and eaves. Soom Moominhouse would be nothing but a big, round snowball. The clocks stopped ticking one by one. Winter had come.
But by the first chapter the Moomins are slowly starting to wake up and here their adventures begin. Moomintroll, Sniff and Snufkin come across a top hat which they play with, unaware that it actually belongs to a hobgoblin. The hat has the power to transform: Moomintroll is turned into another less attractive Moomin (for a while no one recognises him except his mamma), water is turned into raspberry juice, and their home is transformed into a jungle. They decide to get rid of the hat and, eventually, they meet the hobgoblin who is in search of the King's Ruby.
It is charming, enchanting, sweet - every good word you can throw at it, this is it. It is wonderful, a gentle and warm read about the dear adorable little moomintrolls that very much make me want to give it all up and become a Moomin and live in the Valley of the Moomins. It is absolutely timeless and full of wisdom and good advice as well as being an exciting and thoroughly satisfying read. I must, I must get more Moomin books, and everyone who hasn't read this should drop everything, find one, and read it.