by Tove Jansson, published 1971
Curious to see if all the Moomin children’s books were of equal quality, I took this one from the library at random. I was glad I did. In fact, it felt like an even stronger book than the first one I reviewed. In this book, we don’t meet any of the Moomin family, but rather spend time with their friends. And what a group of friends. To say they represent the different temperaments is an understatement. Each character is so clearly emmeshed in his or her own unique way of being. And that’s what makes it delightful because we see what it takes to accommodate those who might have different views of the world.
However, the very strong message for me in the book was from little Toft, who discovered that he had an angry side to him, and that just possibly, others did too, and they had learned how to deal with it. The ending scenes of the book where he contemplates that even perfect Moominmamma might have gotten angry from time to time, is a solid and wonderful image to offer children. More importantly, Toft discovers the dangers of over-idealizing anyone. Learning to love others with their faults is much easier.
As with the other books, the names of the characters are a delight to say, and you just want to read this book out loud. The language, translated from the original Finnish, is exquisite, and is probably above younger readers, but offers a great way to enrich vocabulary. Possibly the younger children may not get all the richness from the book, but it’s worth offering it to them. Older children will be able to read it on their own.