This week I reached the grand old age of 24 and my lovely boyfriend treated me to a meal out, a book, a CD and a cuddly Moomin. Now I know that reaching my mid-20s probably makes me too old for soft toys, but seeing this fluffy Moomintroll in the centre of a Waterstone’s display instantly transported me back to the 1990s cartoon series that I loved so much as a child. Tom claims I’m hard to buy for (I beg to differ) and sensing my inner battle over whether I could justify the purchase, he confiscated said Moomintroll and took him to the counter. He had a birthday gift quite literally in the bag and I was delighted at the prospect of soon receiving my very own Moomin, guilt-free.

Moomintroll

For those who don’t know, the Moomins are a family of small trolls with a vague resemblance to white hippopotamuses. They are gentle creatures who enjoy whistling, eating pancakes and going on adventures in the countryside around their home; the tall, blue, cylindrical Moominhouse. Amongst their friends are harmonica-playing Snufkin, fastidious Sniff and mischief-making Little My.

As with the creations of Smallfilms (The Clangers, Noggin the Nog…) I feel there’s an inherent charm in the world of Moominvalley. My parents read me the original books long before I watched it on TV and it was wonderful to hear about eggshells that turned into floating clouds and a voyage to the Island of the Hattifatteners. All good stories have an element of suspense, however, and both the literary and cartoon incarnations of the Groke genuinely terrified me!

The first Moomin books were created by Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson in the 1940s. Although there have been several television adaptations of her work, the one with which most people of my generation are familiar is the 1990 collaboration between Japanese, Finnish and Dutch broadcasters. It had an upbeat, memorable theme tune (surely a must for any successful kids’ TV show?) and is widely considered responsible for the subsequent ‘Moomin Boom’ which saw Moomintroll, Snufkin and Co. become one of Finland’s biggest exports. Moomin World opened in 1992 and the Finnish trolls have acquired a cult status amongst young and old fans alike.

As of last autumn, there is also now a specialist Moomin Shop in Covent Garden, to which I dragged the long-suffering Tom during our first trip away together earlier this year. Whilst I greatly enjoyed browsing shelves of Moomin matches, Moomin trays, Moomin lunchboxes and every other conceivable piece of Moomin merchandise (except, coincidentally, a soft Moomintroll like the one I now own!) it was all rather overpriced and I left the shop empty handed.

Covent Garden’s Moomin Shop

The fact that the Moomin franchise has become a massive commercial venture does not, however, diminish the joy I derived from reading the books and watching the cartoons when I was younger. Tove Jansson’s gentle-paced stories have enchanted generations of children and it’s testament to their timeless quality that, almost two decades after I first encountered them, I’m still delighted by her characters and their innocent adventures.

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