Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson (Nordic Finds Challenge)

When I was in third grade, there was a girl I greatly admired in my class who checked out a Moomin book from the library. Wanting to be like her, I also checked one out.

I hated it. I didn’t get it, I thought it was boring and so I returned it. And I haven’t picked up a Moomin book since.

Some of you may know of my passion with Traveler’s Factory Notebooks. I have begun a small collection of them, since 2016, and when I saw the special collaboration I hungered after one of these:

It is a brown passport size traveler’s notebook with an embossed picture of Little My on the front, and it is only sold in Japan. “Well,” I thought, “at least I have access to the book.”

And so, I began reading Moominland Midwinter last night, and this time I am utterly entranced. It is one of those books, in my opinion, which is written for children but is really better suited to adults. For the sentences and phrases are powerful when you know enough to appreciate them.

Consider the descriptions of snow:

At dawn the snowdrift on the roof began to move. It went slithering down a bit, then it resolutely coasted over the roof edge and sat down with a soft thump.

p. 5

Or:

The valley was enveloped in a kind of grey twilight. It also wasn’t green any longer, it was white. Everything that had once moved had become immobile. There were no living sounds. Everything angular was now rounded.

p. 9

Moomintroll awakes when a bit of moonlight shines right in his face, and he cannot fall asleep again. He feels terribly lonely, where, “in the drawing room also, grouped around the biggest porcelain stove of the house, the Moomin family lay sleeping their long winter sleep.” And so, he goes out to find Snufkin who went to the South in October.

Of course, Moontroll doesn’t make it, for how could the story continue without his interactions with Little My, Too-ticky, or the Groke? Each character is so charming and so original, that I read this book with great delight.

Favorite quotes:

And suddenly Sorry-oo (the dog) knew that he had made a mistake. They weren’t his brethren at all, and one couldn’t have any fun with them (the wolves). One could only be eaten up, and possibly have the time to regret that one had behaved like an ass. He stopped his tail, which was wagging from pure habit, and thought, “What a pity, I could have slept all those nights instead of sitting here and longing myself silly…”

p. 109

and:

Little My had always had the gift of having fun on her own, and whatever she might have been thinking about spring, she felt no need to talk about it.

p. 117

and:

“Why didn’t you talk like that in the winter?”said Moomintroll, “It’d have been such a comfort. Remember I said once: ‘There were a lot of apples here,’ and you just replied: ‘But now there’s a lot of snow.’ Didn’t you understand that I was melancholy?”

Too-tricky shrugged her shoulders. “One has to discover everything for oneself,” she replied. “And get over it all alone.”

p. 118

and:

“I must get up before the others next spring,” Moominmamma said. “How nice to be on your own for a bit and do what you like.”

p. 130

Read this for Anna Book Bel’s Nordic Finds Challenge 2023 as, of course, Tove Jansson is from Finland.

22 thoughts on “Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson (Nordic Finds Challenge)

  1. The mother of one of my best friends at school was Finnish, so we read a lot of Moomins in my childhood and I loved them. But when I introduced my children to them a few decades later, I loved them even more. Tove Jansson has such a clear, concise, luminous style in all of her prose, for children and adults.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve somehow never read the Moomin books, despite loving Jansson’s adult work (what I’ve read of it, anyway) and finding the aesthetic absolutely adorable! I must try them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know I did! Somehow, I was able to read Charlotte’s Web, and Winnie-The-Pooh, and other childhood books which well suit adults, but I couldn’t find that with the Moomins. Until now. Phew!😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Iliana, I would love to own that traveler’s notebook but, alas, I can only admire it from afar. They are only sold in Japan, and now the people who were able to buy them want 275.00 or more on eBay. But, I was lucky enough to get a Traveler’s Hotel, too, which is my favorite from the 2022 limited set regular size. I had no idea the Records edition would be GONE! But, we’ll love our Hotels, right? What do you use yours for?

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  3. I am so sold on reading any of these books

    This sentence:

    Everything angular was now rounded.

    Has to be one of the most powerful and captivating sentences I have heard in a while.

    The quotes are delightful and profound.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There I was thinking I had no books for Nordic FINDS!! I’ve been reading the first Moomin book as my work back pack bag for a couple of months (I tend to only read a chapter from it twice a week on the days I have time to stop for coffee before going to work), so it’s a slow read. Maybe it’s time to just finish it so I too can have a Nordic FINDS 🙂

    And I agree, adults reading this to their children may find it even more charming and delicious than their younger audience. The illustrations are sweet too.

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    1. I am “sad” that Nordic Finds runs concurrently with my Japanese Literature Challenge, because I love books from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and most especially Norway. I have tons, and I do encourage you to pick up Jon Fosse if you have not yet. He mesmerizes me. Meanwhile, I will think of you and the Moomins on the train together.

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  5. I distinctly remember going to the tiny local library and discovering and falling in love with the Moomin books. I must have been very young, because the one I remember was picture book format. When my children were young, there was a series of animated Moomin stories on television, so obviously I watched those too instead of doing anything‘useful’. I’ve got Moominsummer Madness to read, which I’ve been hanging on to for years because it’s a BookCrossing book and I know I ought to pass it on. NordicFINDS seems like the push I need to finally do that.

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  6. What could be more useful than watching the Moomins on television?🤭 I am so thrilled that now that I have rediscovered them, I have several ahead of me to read. I will look for Moominsummer Madness.

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  7. I have now loaded all the Moomin books onto my kindle, and I even was able to find the elusive Moomin notebook I’ve been longing for on eBay. Thank you so much for this lovely challenge, Annabel, I could read Nordic literature ALL YEAR! In fact, I will. I have a huge stack which I will never finish this month.

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  8. This sounds delightful. I’m glad I’ve got this on my piles. And I’m actually learning Swedish, so hope to read her in the original language some day. I only recently learned that even though she was Finnish, she wrote in Swedish.
    Those notebooks are lovely btw.

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    1. I love that you are learning Swedish! You must know several languages by now, English and German for sure, right? And, these Moomins? I love them! The stories are so beautifully told, and I find them perfect for adults. Well, at least me.😉

      Liked by 1 person

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