Tor.com content by

Ksenia Winnicki

Moomin-mania!: Celebrating 65 Years of Moomins

Some of you may be wondering, what’s with all the sudden Moomin-mania?

Well, this year is the 65th anniversary of the Moomins!

…We can sense some hesitation: what are Moomins?

Well, they’re like white hippos. And they’re Finnish. They’re sort of like the Finnish version of Winnie the Pooh and all his friends. They sprung from the imagination of artist and writer Tove Jansson 65 years ago, and over time became a European phenomenon! There have been cartoons, toys, and planes decorated with Moomin characters . . . there’s even a Moomin theme park in Finland!

Here at the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, we’ve known about the Moomins for a while now and want to spread the word in honor of this grand anniversary. As we have been trying to introduce people to the Moomins, we’ve come across plenty of folks who have already known all about them:

“A lost treasure now rediscovered…A surrealist masterpiece. Honest.”—Neil Gaiman

“Jansson was a genius of a very subtle kind. These simple stories resonate with profound and complex emotions that are like nothing else in literature for children or adults: intensely Nordic, and completely universal.”—Philip Pullman

[Moominmore]

Series: Moominweek

Moominary!

A handy guide to the Moomins and their world:

Moomintroll: He’s an agreeable fellow who’s interested in everything he sees. Moomintroll particularly loves collecting rocks and shells. He also loves the sea, as does the whole Moomin family. Moomintroll is a dreamer and a thinker. Snufkin is his best friend. Moomintroll loves his family above all else, and when Moominpappa invents a good excuse for an adventure, Moomintroll is always eager to tag along.

Moominmamma: She is a calm and collected mother who never lets little things get on her nerves. No one is ever unhappy in Moominmamma’s company: she’s always ready to help and console. The residents of Moominvalley trust her, as Moominmamma never reveals their secrets. She ensures that the Moominhouse is always a safe and loving place—both for her family and for visitors. It’s thanks to her that everything runs so smoothly in the Moomin household.

Moominpappa: He is boyish and adventurous, but still proud of being the head of the family. Moominpappa considers himself to be very knowledgeable and an expert in many fields, and is always willing to offer advice to others. He is ready to do anything for his family. He enjoys living in Moominvalley, but is also curious and ready to try new things. Adventures are always welcome—and luckily they often come his way.

Snorkmaiden: Snorkmaiden is a Snork, a species that differs slightly from the Moomins; one special characteristic is that they always change color according to their mood. Snorkmaiden is Moomintroll’s friend and playmate. They like each other a lot and love hanging out together. She is happy and energetic, and a daydreamer, and often imagines what her prince charming will be like. When Snorkmaiden is upset, she turns light green.

Snork: Snork is Snorkmaiden’s diligent and ingenious brother. He’s exceptionally talented at building new machines and coming up with new inventions. The residents of Moominvalley often ask Snork for help in solving tricky problems. As an avid reader, Snork researches things for himself and then passes on his knowledge and observations to others. Like his sister, he also changes color according to his mood.

Snufkin: Snufkin is easygoing and carefree; he always comes and goes as he pleases. He wanders the world fishing and playing harmonica and carries everything he needs in his backpack. Snufkin meets every new person and event with curiosity and a warm heart. He enjoys spending time with the Moomins in Moominvalley, but in November he always goes south for the winter, only returning to Moominvalley in the spring.

Little My: Little My lives with the Moomins in the Moominhouse, even though she isn’t related to them. She is brave and fearless and is eager to join the Moomins on their adventures. Sometimes she really seems to love small catastrophes. Little My is fiery and irritable—but also happy and friendly. Being quite small, she can hide in a milk jug or amongst the ladles and whisks in the kitchen drawer. Sometimes she goes to sleep in Snufkin’s pocket.

Sniff: Sniff is not a Moomin, but he lives in the Moominhouse just like Little My. Although he’s eager to join in with whatever the Moomins are up to, his timidity means that he won’t do anything dangerous. He’s very good-natured and sometimes a little cowardly. Sniff loves all valuable things and gets excited whenever he encounters something shiny and sparkly. Sniff makes many plans to get rich, even though they don’t usually succeed. Owning things is, however, very important to him—and he’s something of a gourmet, too.

Mymble: Mymble is Little My’s sister and Snufkin’s half-sister. Their mother is also called Mymble, but being an amiable and helpful big sister, Mymble soon took responsibility for looking after all her younger siblings. Mymble is much calmer than Little My and often dreams of finding the love of her life. She often wears a pink dress and does her hair in the same kind of bun as Little My.

The Hemulen: The Hemulens that live in Moominvalley are great believers in order. They like to boss other people around and expect all rules to be obeyed to the letter. Collecting has become an important hobby for many Hemulens and they don’t have time to think about much else. Once they start collecting stamps or plants, they go to great lengths to acquire the full set. Hemulens are only slightly larger than Moomins.

Moominvalley: Moominvalley is an idyllic and peaceful place where the Moomins live in harmony with nature. The largest building in the valley is the Moominhouse. A river runs through this beautiful valley, which lies between the sea and the mountains, including a range called the Lonely Mountains. When spring arrives, the valley bursts into bloom, as does Moominmamma’s treasured garden.

Moominhouse: The Moomins live in a round, blue house that’s the same shape as a ceramic fireplace. You’re probably wondering why it looks that way: legend has it that, in the old days, Moomins used to live behind our ceramic fireplaces. The house originally had only two floors but the numerous visitors soon made it feel cramped, so they extended the house. Moominpappa is very proud of this house, which he built with his own two hands. It has weathered storms and earthquakes, and is big enough for everyone—the Moomins and the friends that live with them—to have their own room.

Series: Moominweek