Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson

It is easy to think of Tove Jansson’s Moomin books as cozy as they, well, are cozy: the silent winters, the strange summers, the roaring sea, the dense forests, a life lived close to nature, and the snug dwelling of the Moomin family.

The Moomins look somewhat like mighty hippopotamuses, and the family itself (and their home) is as inviting as can be. The family’s approach to life is bohemian, and their abode is constantly visited by creatures who drop in to enjoy Moominmamma’s cooking and the useful items that can be found in her handbag. It is unknown how Moominpappa makes a living but between writing his memoirs and sudden whims, he stays busy.  In short, the Moomin books offer a comfy, domestic bliss that some readers yearn for.

But disaster on a great scale is prevalent in Jansson’s Moomin stories. Just listen to some of the titles of her novels: The Moomins and the Great Flood, Moominsummer Madness, and Comet in Moominland.

Artists of Tove Jansson’s stature have the ability to transcend their historic context, but it is obvious that the Soviet attack on Finland in November 1939 affected the author deeply. She was 25 years old and still living at home when large parts of Europe (and eventually the world) descended into the abyss of war. In her first Moomin novel, a flood threatens the land, and in Comet in Moominland, written during World War II but published in 1946, a red comet may be on its way to destroy the Moomin valley – in fact, the end of the entire world might be near.

The tale has Biblical, apocalyptic elements, and panic is in the air as the creatures of the valley attempt to cope with the events and find sanctuary. The mood is tense and the heat of the comet dries out the sea; the family and their friends flee to a cave where they embrace each other when the comet is close – united they face death.

The Moomin books are considered books for children. The characters are whimsical, complex, and funny, and the humor, adventures, depth and strong narratives of the novels have attracted young readers for decades. However, like so many great children’s books, the Moomin novels can also be read by an older audience.  There is something for almost all ages in these books.

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2 Responses to “Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson”

  1. Sharon S. Says:

    It’s so true that great children’s books have something to say to all of us! Domestic bliss is deeply appreciated when a disaster that threatens to destroy it looms near. Thanks for this beautifully written blog, and for introducing us to this little gem.

  2. Andrew Nother Says:

    I’m grabben a couple of these fer my boy!

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