© Tove Jansson, Sophie Hannah and Peter Blegvad.
I don’t usually buy picture books for young readers, but for a few authors any book of theirs I haven’t read is a must-buy, and Tove Jansson is one of those. I loved her childrens’ novels about the Moomin family and friends when I was a kid, and recently enjoyed (and reviewed here) the Moomin comic strip she wrote and drew. This picture book from 1952 is one of several she did that I knew of but never found. Like the comic strip, it’s just been reprinted by Drawn and Quarterly.
From size and lettering style on the front cover, one might think Jansson was emulating the Dr. Seuss books, but this is something quite different. Nearly each page has some sort of hole or cutout that becomes part of the story, often a path or doorway, as Moomintroll and his friend Mymble search for Mymble’s missing little sister My.
On this page, for instance, it’s the doorway at upper left. Jansson’s charming art is enhanced by simple flat coloring throughout, and the English translation by Sophie Hannah is lettered in the style of Jansson by Peter Blegvad. While not as clever a rhymer as Dr. Seuss, Jansson’s characters and whimsical writing have lots of charm, and I’m sure this book would delight nearly any young reader, or would be great to read to those even younger. You needn’t know anything about the Moomins, the story is complete in itself, but it would make a great introduction to the much longer novels. I’m really glad to have finally had the chance to enjoy this book, and it’s very highly recommended for older Moomin fans like me, or any young child.