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Moominpappa at Sea (Moomins Fiction) Mass Market Paperback – 4 Jun 2009
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"There is, in short, everything in the Moon books: giant comets and secret caves and tree houses and stilts and magic-carpet clouds and amusement parks run by despotic practical-joking kings and time machines and ski instructors." -"Harper's ""We need Moominland for its gentle pace, its sense of beauty and awe, and its spirit of friendliness and empathy--now more than ever." -"The Horn Book ""These charming fantasies are propelled by a childlike curiosity and filled with quiet wisdom, appealing geniality, and a satisfying sense of self-discovery." -School Library Journal.com "If you had no shame reading "Harry Potter" on the subway, there's no need to hide Tove Jansson's witty, whimsically illustrated Finnish series." -Daily Candy "The Moomin books make for both splendid bedtime read-alouds and solitary savoring." -"Wall Street Journal" "It's more than forty years since Jansson's Moomintrolls first appeared. I found the writing and invention as appealing
About the Author
Tove Jansson, writer and illustrator, was born in Finland in 1914. She began her Moomin series in 1945 and they became a huge success with their individualistic characters, subtle humour, and an all-encompassing sense of freedom. The Moomins were, to some extent, a reflection of Tove Jansson's own family, who were bohemians and lived close to nature. Jansson became well known in England for her Moomins comic strip, published daily in London's Evening News between 1953-59, continued by her brother Lars Jansson from 1959-1975. Jansson also wrote adult fiction, short stories and memoirs, and was an award-winning artist. Tove Jansson died in 2001.
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If you can, read it almost in one go. Have a day off, be on holiday and go with it. I guarantee it will be such a joyful read for you.
Tove Jansson was a great artist - she has left a great legacy - I am ready for more of the Moomins!
Momminpappa at Sea is basically about Moominpappa's midlife crisis and the whole family sets off to sea to live on a small island with a lighthouse inspired by his dreams. However, the Groke, a cold dark figure that longs for light and kills the grass (and any plant) that she sits on, freezes the water all around her and floats after them. Guess where she lands up? The book is like a modern fairytale and the Moomins are all archetypes. No wonder, I sensed as a kid that there was a lot going on that I didn't quite understand. Almost fifty years after first reading this book, I am bowled over by how well Jansson captures both the midlife crisis and depression and therefore amazed that the book, despite such adult themes, still spoke to me all those years ago. As a therapist, I can only applaud how well her characters face these problems and slightly spooked to discover the solution is something I try and teach my clients today. Could I have picked up more than I thought from my first reading?
At the centre of the story stands Moominpappa. He is overcome with boredom and restlessness, but doesn't know what to do about it. Finally, he moves his family out to a deserted, unwelcoming island with an unwelcoming lighthouse. Adopting the role of lighthouse keeper, Moominpappa tries to engage himself in his new life. Moominmamma silently dislikes her new home and dreams her way back to Moominvalley in her own way; Moomin becomes obsessed with the beautiful but vain sea horses that appear on the beach at moonlight; the irresponsible Little My watches everything as if from afar, seemingly unaffected by the whole thing, and finally the eerie Groke follows the family to the island, unbeknownst to most of them. The book is subtly divided between Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Moomin. Their new life on the island begins to do something to them, and they slowly drift apart and become absorbed in their own dreams and worries.
Nothing goes right; Moominpappa humiliatingly doesn't know how to light the lighthouse, so he tries new and new ways to be useful but faces nothing but failures, making him increasingly frustrated. The tiniest ray of hope makes him excited, ecstatic, even if the reader can tell that there may not be much basis for his excitement. His growing anger finally lashes out at the sea, which he identifies as the root of all his problems. Tove Jansson always had an extraordinary gift at making her characters face very human dilemmas. I find it hard to witness just how lost they all are, especially Moominpappa. And yet there is a very real hope running throughout, and just like with life, the resolve comes when you least expect it. The family learn a lot and they reach all the right conclusions via all the wrong means. All this is masterfully presented by Tove Jansson, able to go from stark real to dreamlike fantasy near-effortlessly. The clear and unsentimental way in which the story is told clinches it.
Moominpappa at Sea is an almost psychological landscape; a deep and thoughtful reflection on what it means to grow up and find peace within yourself. I recommend it when you feel like reflecting on your life.
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