Page 45 Review by Stephen
I'm in a deep, dark forest full of desolate sounds with Moomintroll and Moominmamma. Being brave.
Thats what I tweeted last Saturday morning, so transported was I by this, the very first MOOMIN adventure, long before there was the comfort and community of Moominvalley. Instead, this wondrous prose illustrated with haunting, sepia-tinted paintings full of strange creatures who shine bright in the shadowy night, finds Moominmamma leading a very young Moomintroll through fearful forests and dangerous swamps in search of the sun, and a Moominpappa missing for so long now that Moomintroll barely remembers him.
Moomintrolls, you see, used to live behind tall stoves in human houses, but now theyve started to wander is search of their own homes. Were not happy with central heating.
Moominpappa, a natural nomad, took off with the ever-itinerant Hattifatteners who are most invisible, though you may hear them scuttling under your floorboards. They have no attention span to speak of, so have probably abandoned Moominpappa many moons ago. Its really quite important that they find him.
Along the way they will encounter a timid little creature who will later be known as Sniff, the blue-haired Tulippa whom they find in a flower and whose locks glow eerily in the dark, some strange modes of transport and others they must make for themselves.
The designs, even so early on, are glorious, the Hattifattener coming off like tubular sea anenomes or small, bipedal axolotls. Theres one particular painting which filled me with awe, as a sea-troll steers their boat into a black ravine where the storm howled between the enormously high faces of rock. The fragile craft leaps over dark, frightful waves the size of Hokusais tidal giants, into the unknown. Also, the Moomins are far, far smaller than later on and so look far more vulnerable. Moominmamma, however, is quietly determined, the voice of constant reassurance even when startled herself.
At first Moominmamma was frightened too, but then she said soothingly: Its really a very little creature. Wait, and Ill shine a light on it. Everything looks worse in the dark you know.
Here she is the ultimate mother, forever resourceful, pulling from her capacious handbag whatever could possibly be required including, for Moomintroll, a pair of dry socks. Which is funny, since hes not wearing anything.