Since making the acquaintances of the lovely little Moomins recently, I’ve felt myself drawn back towards Moominland – so I suppose it wasn’t going to be long before I caught up with their second adventure, “Comet in Moominland”!

CometMoominland_covThis is the first ‘proper’ Moomin story, as all the regular characters make their proper entry and are named, and it was first published in 1946. The tale opens in Moomin Valley, where Moomintroll and Sniff (the ‘little creature’) are off exploring. They follow a path to the sea, encountering a mischievous silk monkey on the way, and discover a wonderful cave. However, all is not as idyllic as it might seem, as everywhere they go, the pair come across a strange symbol – a star with a tail. Nature seems to be trying to tell them that all is not well, and when Moomintroll discovers that a comet is approaching earth, he and Sniff set off to find the observatory on top of the Lonely Mountains, where the astronomers can tell them what is happening.

comet

Their journey is a long one, and dangerous too, as they encounter crocodiles, storms, underground rivers and other perils. Once they’ve confirmed the arrival date of the comet, there is a race against time to get home to warn the others – but along the way are all sorts of distractions, like a Village Shop, a ball and a very fetching Snork Maiden who Moomintroll finds very attractive… Will they make it home in time and what will happen when the comet arrives?

This is *such* a wonderful book that I feel totally aggrieved that I never read the Moomins when I was young! Jansson’s created a beautiful little world, peopled with loveable creatures; all of whom have their own foibles and frailties, but that makes them all the more loveable! Moomintroll is a mix of brave and cautious; Sniff is a bit scared of everything and not afraid to claim credit for things he hasn’t done; Snufkin has a story for all occasions and is very awkward about new things; the Snork Maiden is rather self-obsessed; and the Snork wants to have meetings about everything! Nevertheless, they all pull together when needs be, and I got *so* involved in their journey!

“You must go on a long journey before you can really find out how wonderful home is.”

The illustrations, of course, deserve special mention – simple line drawings which are so evocative and imaginative, capturing wonderful landscapes and all the adventures of the journey. I wish it was possible to get the books in big, deluxe volumes so you could see larger versions of the drawings! And the situations she puts her characters in are so imaginative and memorable – one of my favourites was of the adventurers crossing the dry sea bed on stilts.

stilts

With these books, I feel there’s plenty going on under the surface, and perhaps it’s only as an adult reader you see these things. The characters go through a number of experiences which force them to see past their foibles and grow up a little; and because of when the book was published, I couldn’t help thinking of the comet as analogous to the Nazis and Second World War which had swept so close to the world, trying to destroy everything familiar…

“Moomintroll thought how frightened the earth must be feeling with that great ball of fire coming nearer and nearer to her. Then he thought about how much he loved everything; the forest and the sea, the rain and the wind, the sunshine, the grass and the moss, and how impossible it would be to live without them all, and this made him feel very sad.”

I’m growing to love the little Moomins and their wonderfully evoked world – but I think I should definitely ration the books or I’ll be tempted to gobble them all at once and have nothing left to read!!

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