Images © Tove Jansson.
In addition to a series of novels about the Moomins, and a comic strip, Tove Jansson wrote several picture books about them for very young readers. I never found any of those when I was young, this is the second to be reprinted recently by Drawn & Quarterly under their Enfant imprint. The blurb on the inside back cover calls this one the most popular of her picture books, and I can see why, it’s utterly charming. Despite the short length, just 30 pages in a format much like that of the Dr. Seuss books, the story of a lonely, shy creature trying desperately to make friends is one that will appeal to almost anyone, with rhymed language that appears simple but has the subtle impact of good verse.
The art by Jansson has plenty of color on most of the pages, in a style like that on the cover, but I like the few black and white pages even better, such as this one of Toffle leaving his home on a foggy day. Credit must be given to the English translation by Sophie Hannah, and the lettering (in the style of Jansson) by Peter Blegvad. Any young child will love this book, and any adult reading to that child will also enjoy it. You need know nothing of the Moomins, but it does serve as a nice introduction to a few of them, and certainly a great open window into the unique world of Tove Jansson. Highly recommended!