by Tove Jansson
The little creatures of Moominvalley have always hibernated through the winter. This time, for some reason, Moomintroll wakes up a little after the New Year, and stays awake for the rest of the winter.
At first, it's a hard adjustment for him. With the rest of his family sound asleep, he struggles with loneliness and boredom. The sharp cold, the snow covering everything, and the deathly silence of the garden fill him with melancholy. He yearns for the sun, which doesn't rise above the horizon for weeks. And when company does show up - lots and lots of uninvited company, driven into Moominvalley by an especially harsh cold snap - Moomintroll feels protective of his family's home and belongings.
So while this winter in Moominvalley is filled with characters and incidents, the main conflict of the story is fought between Moomintroll and his winter depression. It is wonderful to see him discovering things about winter that many of us take for granted. Discovering its beauties and its joys, accepting its differences from the other times of year, and opening his heart to a crowd of strange and sometimes prickly new people, Moomintroll grows up a little during this story.
This is the sixth book in an award-winning series originally written in Swedish by a Finnish author, who also illustrated a long-running comic strip based on the same characters. In it, she introduces some new characters who may include some of your favorites. Too-ticky turns the bathing-hut into her winter home, together with a family of invisible shrews. Unflappable, philosophical, she serves as a sort of emcee, introducing Moomintroll to all of winter's spectacle and the motley company that fills out the cast. We also meet Sorry-oo the dog, the Dweller under the Sink, an evolutionary Ancestor of the Moomins, the absentminded Squirrel with the Marvelous Tail, and a Hemulen who dresses like Charlie Brown, among others.
Of Moomintroll's old friends, only the aggressive Little My shares his experiences, including ski lessons, a search for a missing Little Creep, surviving the Great Cold, and celebrating the return of the sun. And while Moomintroll struggles with his winter blues and anxieties, he gives joy to anyone who has ever been oppressed by winter's darkness. I, for example, laugh every time I consider Moomintroll's remark: "I intended to punish the sun by staying at home until he comes back." It is a book to brighten one's gloom, to lift one's spirits, and to chase away one's sadness while acknowledging that it is real. It is, in short, a book that may help as many children as it entertains.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 10+
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