June Book Club: Moomintrolls

Nordiska’s Book Club

To all of you who are new, welcome! Nordiska has launched its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. We invite you to expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works with us the last Thursday of each month.

To returners, welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed last month’s dark comedy Anxious People. For the month of June we will be reading our first children’s novels featuring the Moomins, lovable hippo-like characters created by the talented Tove Jansson. If you recall, last June we read The Summer Book, a more adult-level novel about childhood by Jansson. We hope you will enjoy her fantastical Moomin novels as well!

June’s Picks: The Moomintrolls

Known internationally for their objectively adorable hippopotamus-like character design, the Moomins or Moomintrolls were created by the prolific writer and artist, Tove Jansson to illustrate a pacific paradise after years of war. Decades after the first novel was published, Jansson’s Moomins continue to represent a significant part of Nordic culture that is now recognized internationally.

Image from the Moomin Theme Park in Japan

Born in to a Swedish-Finnish household in 1914, Tove Jansson is a multi-talented author and artist known principally for her Moomin novels and comics. Jansson grew up in Finland during its civil war and completed art school in Paris just before the Second World War. In light of the global turmoil, Jansson created a peaceful place for her and her readers to escape to, Moominvalley. In her article on Jansson’s life, Sheila Heiti summarizes the origins of the Moomins:

It was during these turbulent creative years that Jansson invented the Moomins, a close-knit family made up of the boyish Moomintroll, the obliging and practical Moominmamma, the adventure-seeking Moominpappa, and Moomintroll’s pretty and vain girlfriend, Snork Maiden, along with an auxiliary cast of non-Moomin friends. They live together in peaceful, verdant Moominvalley, but frequently venture beyond its borders. Jansson wrote to a friend that the characters had taken shape “when I was feeling depressed and scared of the bombing and wanted to get away from my gloomy thoughts to something else entirely. . . . I crept into an unbelievable world where everything was natural and benign—and possible.” (Heiti).

The Moomins have provided an imaginative safe haven for over seventy years. Jansson wrote a series of short children’s novels featuring her Moomins as well as a comic strip that had a twenty-year run.

For more information on the author Tove Jansson, here is a link to her official website: tovejansson.com and for more on her personal life here is the full article by the New Yorker titled “Inside Tove Jansson’s Private Universe” by Sheila Heiti.

Since the Moomin books are shorter in length, as they are children’s books, we have selected the first two books for June’s book club discussion: Moomins and the Great Flood (1945) and Comet in Moominland (1946).

It is important to note that we have chosen Tove Jansson’s work as her children’s novels are an internationally recognized part of Nordic culture. Moreover, June is Pride Month and we wanted to highlight the work of a talented member of the LGBTQ community. Though in Jansson’s time she may not have identified herself as such with today’s terminology, members of the community today have claimed her and many of her writings and clear love for her partner Tuulikki Pietilä (“Tooti”) all point to this conclusion. And so we would like to specifically highlight Jansson and her iconic Moomins for the month of June.

Virtual Book Club Meeting Information

We will be meeting to discuss the Moomins on Thursday, June 30th at 6:00pm PST via Zoom. You can find the Zoom invitation link here to register for the meeting ahead of time and/or keep a look out on our social media sites for an invitation.

You can purchase your copy of Moomins and the Great Flood and Comet in Moominland on Nordiska’s website by following the above links, or come and visit us in store in downtown Poulsbo. As a thank you for purchasing your book with us, Nordiska is offering a 15% discount on the book club pick of the month by using the code: bookclub22.

Published by nordiskapoulsbo

I write for, edit and maintain this blog about celebrating and being inspired by Scandinavian cultures for the Nordiska store in Poulsbo, WA.

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