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My Book Review of Tove Jansson's Moominvalley in November

Updated on August 28, 2015

How Does Jansson Give You Insight on Moomintroll Without His Appearance in the Book?

Source

Poetically Beautiful, Whimsical and Still - Tove Jansson's Story About Moominvalley

My meditation skills are spotty at best. Sometimes, I've found, having something to focus on enables me to be more in the now. What has helped me are things like an object, looking off into the distant landscape, or a relaxing sound. These methods of calming my mind to feel less stress have improved my health and well being.I found another more surprising way to get into a reflective mood, reading a childrens book.

Some of you may be acquainted with The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The simplicity of the narrative along with its deeper symbolic meanings is an example of the type of story that takes you on a soulful path without being inherently religious. Almost escapist, but in a good way.

The book I would like to recommend is the last in the Moomintroll series. Its entitled Moominvalley in November.

Tove Jansson's Moomintroll Adieu

Moominvalley in November (Moomins)
Moominvalley in November (Moomins)

The last in the series. Here is the paperback version.

 

Moomintrolls and Tove Jansson

Clay sculpture of Moomintroll by Lulu A.
Clay sculpture of Moomintroll by Lulu A. | Source

Moomintrolls

There are wonderful articles out there that explain in detail what Moomintrolls are and how these eccentric creatures live in their world. Along with the books, a whole genre of toys and cartoons have sprung from them.


Lingonberry jam makes me think of Finland and Moomintrolls.

Hey, who ate all the Lingonberry jam??
Hey, who ate all the Lingonberry jam?? | Source

The Author

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was a Finnish author that was a part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. Her family was artistic and Janson followed suit, not only being a writer, but also a painter and illustrator.Initially, she wrote the Moomintroll series to lift the heavy weight of reality during World War II. Her tales of the Moomintroll creatures delighted both children and adults and won many awards. Her ability to help us suspend belief enables us to enjoy a story about hippo-troll-like beings that lived in houses in the woods and drank coffee, sailed boats and collected things.Photo: My young daughter MADE this clay figure of a Moomintroll for my birthday using only a picture.

The Magic of a Skillful Writer

In the Book Moominvalley in November you don't see any Moomintrolls. None. What you get is their house, their objects, furniture, their valley and the wistful conversations of the other creatures that by some strange coincidence decided to visit them at their house in Moominvalley- all at the same time. They were drawn for different reasons but they were unified in their love and appreciation of the Moomintroll family.

On a practical level, you probably should read at least one of the other books that actually has Moomintrolls in them so you can get an idea of what they're like. I would suggest Finn Family Moomintroll.

I did start off with the Mid-Winter book and then back to the Finn Family book. It wasn't bad that way, I felt an initial, exciting thrust into a world in which I had absolutely no idea who was what. :) It might be an interesting exercise to read Moominvalley in November first and let your impression of the Moomins develop abstractly.Now that that's all said, let's get to the basic story (without giving too much away) and then some resources for you to look up more about the Moomins.

Character Outline

Most of the creatures are alluded to by their 'type' not by a given name.

Toft: Quiet, shy, wanting love but is afraid to ask, like a little woodland creature.

Hemulan: Collector, always takes charge, builds projects.

Fillyjonk: Fussy, anxious, perfectionist when it comes to cleaning.

Grandpa-Grumbles: A new character for this series, feels unappreciated by his family so he takes off. He grumbles and is constantly misplacing things.

Snufkin: A regular who visits the Moomintroll family every summer, vagabond, hates rules, plays music.

Mymble: Confident with herself, blunt, merry, mischevious. Dozens of brothers and sisters. Her youngest sister Little My was adopted by the Moomintrolls.

A Sturdy Metal Cup with a Moomintroll Scene

Muurla Moomintroll Painting Mug
Muurla Moomintroll Painting Mug

I received a mug similar to this as a gift. I've had it for years.

 

Story Outline

As each of the characters are introduced with their own little mini-story; we find out their motivation to start traveling towards Moominvalley to the Moomin family house. They are being drawn in for one last visit before the final days of autumn.

Everyone makes themselves at home while waiting for the Moomintrolls to return. They interact, frictions and problems appear and then are resolved. Discoveries are made, projects are started and then dropped.The majority eventually decide that they need to get back to their own homes before winter sets in and the first snow falls. Only one remains to wait at the end.During the book, we discover clues of why the Moomintrolls are absent. A gazing ball in the lawn mysteriously shows the ocean and their ship. We find Moominpappa's model of a lighthouse in his room. These clues I believe are directing us to their adventures in the book, Moominpapa at Sea. So actually- both of these books are happening simultaneously in time. I think that's a really cool way to relate books in a series.

One of My Favorite Parts

The creatures scrape up whatever food and decorations they can to have a farewell party before leaving the house. Fillyjonk, less uptight than she was when she first came there, puts on a beautiful shadow puppet play entitled "The Return." She sets up her giant white sheet, puts a lamp behind it and blows out all the other lights in the room. Everyone sits as her play unfolds.There is a ship on the ocean, she had cut out figures that represented all the Moomintroll Family; Moominpapa, Moominmama, Moomintroll and Little My. They are sailing back home.Image: This is my own drawn adaption of the Shadow Play influenced by Jansson's illustrations. .

A Study on How Others Can Touch Your Life

Through story, dialogue and atmosphere, Jansson lets fate and longing for the Moomintroll family to bring her characters together. As strangers and then friends, they discover how the Moomintroll family has touched all their lives.

can't exactly explain why I like these whimsical books so much but for me, they definitely hit a feeling that's both happy and a little melancholy. Her writing is consistent for each character. It's a nice escape from the everyday; much like The Wind in the Willows or The House at Pooh Corner. This book is not for everyone but it definitely was for me. Personally, I found the dialogue between the creatures charming and a little nutty. I think you can identify with all the characters because of their human-like strengths and weaknesses. You actually see them all reaching a new level of maturity by the end of the book. I've come back to read this story many times in order to enjoy it, and to get back to a reflective frame of mind . Bravo, Tove Jansson!

Do you know the Moomins? How have they made an impact on you?

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    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Thank you for this lens. I'll put some of these books on my wish list.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @ConvenientCalendar: You're welcome. It's not for everyone but it hit just the right feeling for me.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @BruceBair: Thank you so much! Moomins is not for everyone but hope it was entertaining.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @HealthfulMD: Your Moomins lens was very inspirational to me. Hope we get more people knowing about them.

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      Never read any of them! Will check it out now! Thanks!

    • BruceBair profile image

      BruceBair 4 years ago

      I could not get interested in Moomins, but your lens kept me moving and looking. It has given me some ideas about how to review some books I want people to know about.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      Love the Moomins. Thanks for including my Moomin lenses.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @Girlwiththorns: These books have been forgotten in the popular childrens book lists. They have the querkiness I really like. I've read them all now and I can even feel the differences in the translations. I think they have a giant amusement park village for Moomintroll fans in Finland.

    • Girlwiththorns profile image

      Girlwiththorns 4 years ago

      This is my favourite book from childhood! Hard to find nowadays

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @Klaartje Loose: There are some childrens books that also speak to an adult, I love The Little Prince also. Hopefully you'll get something out of this one. I'll tell my daughter you mentioned her sculpture. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes very unique topic, thanks for sharing this :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've never heard of this. Thanks for the unique lens!

    • Klaartje Loose profile image

      Klaartje Loose 4 years ago

      This is completely new to me. But I LOVE the little prince, so I'm tempted to read these series too... Nice moomin your daughter made for you!

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @Vikk Simmons: You're welcome.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      I had never heard of this series of books or these characters. Thank you for the introduction.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: Thank you so much!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice review, something different, I haven't heard of Momins, but when I do i will know what they are talking about. Thanks for sharing.