This Christmas I’m accompanying my middle nephew to see Moominland Midwinter at the egg Theatre in Bath. I know of these creatures, of course, but have never watched the TV series, nor read the tales, so when I found the book Finn Family Moomintroll in my local Oxfam Bookshop, I decided I’d better do my homework and gain an insight into author Tove Jansson’s characters.
The novel begins with the whole moomin family and all their lodgers (who include Snufkin, a worldy-wise scarecrow-like creature, and Sniff, who looks a bit like a kangaroo and is afraid of everything, prepare for hibernation by feasting on pine-needles and snuggling up in bed.
When they wake the long Moomin winter (as long as Finland’s winter, I’m guessing), is over and Moomintroll and his friends head out to explore and have adventures, often prompted by mistakes made with a goblin’s hat (which, they found on a mountaintop), and other things that wash up on the seashore, including an old boat that they sail to a smaller island than the one they live on, encounter hundreds of Hattifatteners’ (who, incidentally, can neither hear nor talk), survive a storm and then have a jolly morning of beachcombing.
There is a dreamy, fantastical feel to Tove’s writing that means you drift along with the characters and accept everything that happens to them. Comfortingly, whatever scrapes they get into are easily solved, sometimes simply by the day ending and the sun setting.
I’m intrigued to see how Tove’s stories will be adapted for the stage, but know from the pay’s description that it will include puppets and a ‘specially-written soundtrack.’
The story seems rather different to the one I’ve read, but features Moomintroll waking early from hibernation to discover a world of snow populated by a variety of curious characters,
It has potential to be absolutely magical – I can’t wait!