Page 45 Review by Stephen
Oh joy, joy, joy-joy, joy- joy, joy!
Which is more difficult to type than you'd imagine.
This slipcased whopper collects all five of Tove Jansson's MOOMIN volumes before her brother Lars took over, each of which you'll find reviewed by myself, Jonathan or Tom, although my more lengthy musings can be found in the landscape colour editions which you'll also find here in their original black and white.
You'll also be blessed with a gorgeous A2 fold-out poster of the cover and nearly thirty pages of immaculate character designs both used and unused in Tove's assured, silky black line on what appears to be aged, tea-stained baking paper: they have that enchanting translucency.
I first discovered MOOMIN aged four or five while sleeping over at my cousin's house, tucked up in bed one Boxing Day evening. The safe and soft sounds of our mums and our dads boozing away merrily below drifted comfortingly up the stairs. It was dark outside and it was snowing. Can you imagine the magic of that?
It was, of course, in the form of illustrated prose paperbacks, whereas this is the comics.
The Moomins themselves were enchanting: a tight but welcoming and insatiably curious family unit forever inviting waifs and strays into their home, then promptly wishing that they hadn't.
Either that or they'd set out on wild adventures, propelled by Moominpappa's incurable wanderlust. Moominmamma always managed to pack more essentials and potted geraniums into her capacious handbag than is remotely feasible, but then she was forever having to provide.
"Good thing we have such a lot of bed-sheets and table-cloths for the sails."
"Yes, dear. Does the hemstitching matter much?"
Essentially none of them could say "no" or at least take "no" for an answer even with a daintily appended "dear". Young Moomintroll would usually manage to put his foot in it and upset Snorkmaiden, his singularly sensitive belle; and, oh, the weird and wonderful creatures they'd encounter!
Ahead of her times, Jansson depicted floods of quite Biblical proportions and at least one drought, plus she was perfectly aware that the press were not to be trusted.
Everything would be back to a reassuring normality by the end but Tove Jansson's first MOOMIN outing - the illustrated prose that is THE MOOMINS AND THE GREAT FLOOD - was a very different beast. The sepia paintings are as eerie as you like!
Anyway, fifty quid is an utter bargain when you add up the cost of the first five hardcovers and with these newly unearthed extras in the back it's a steal.
Irrelevant aside: Tove Jansson is actually pronounced "Two-va Yon-son", though obviously we won't be doing that because no one would have a clue who we're talking about. Also, it'd be like those pretentious old aristos who, in the 1930s, pronounced "champagne" "shom-pan-yer" or a French newsreader suddenly breaking off from her his mellifluous French accent to pronounce "Scunthorpe" in its thickest, bluntest, British best.