While most of my young adult section is given over to books mostly for teen readers I have a special fondness for the Moomin series of books by Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson, which are really for a audience of nine or ten years old. In Scandinavia they have the cultural significance of Winnie the Pooh or Roald Dahl and are also favourites in Japan and some other European countries. I first fell in love with them as a small child, and as a bookseller have always tried to keep some on the shelves. Luckily they’ve pretty much always been in print. In fact the editions I have in the store are published by Puffin Books, the same as the ones I owned. Like the ones I had, they’re paperbacks however and that’s why this month’s release is so exciting. This month the first four Moomin books will be offered in small format hard covers for $19.99 each. Using Tove Jansson‘s own artwork on the covers, these are beautiful looking books. They’re also the most charming and sweet children’s books I’ve ever read.
I imagine that many of you will be familiar with them, but if you’re not here’s the deal. The Moomin family (they’re a kind of very cute Finnish troll) have all sorts of adventures meeting strange and unusual people and creatures. They overcome disasters, floods and even open their very own floating theatre at one point, all accompanied by Tove Jansson‘s beautiful illustrations. The most striking thing about the books is that the Moomins demonstrate the power of kindness and that’s at the heart of all the stories. I compared them earlier to Roald Dahl and A A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, and I think that’s the best way to describe them. Imagine the wit of Roald Dahl and the sweetness of Pooh and Piglet and you’ll have an idea of what reading these is like. I know it’s a bit different from what I normally promote, but these are beautiful editions of a children’s classic, and Christmas is on the way. Finally, I owe some of my earliest and fondest reading memories to these books and I feel like I owe it to Tove to tell folks about them.