Rereading: TALES FROM MOOMIN VALLEY by Tove Jansson

The seventh longer Moomin book is a collection of nine short stories. I found I didn’t remember it at all, though I liked it on this reading.

In “The Spring Tune,” Snufkin the wanderer is camping alone in the northern woods trying to find a new tune to play when he returns to Moomin Valley in the spring. He meets a small Creep, a creature who has been noticed so little that he doesn’t even have a name. Snufkin helps him find one.

In “A Tale of Horror,” a young Whomper finds he has a talent for telling scary stories that terrifies his baby brother. He’s so good at it that he convinces himself they are true, and gets in trouble with his father for telling lies. Then the Whomper meets Little My, who is even better at telling scary stories.

In “The Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters,” a creature who is prone to thinking about all the worst things that can happen has rented a house on the beach from a Gaffsie, but finds little solace there, as she continues to worry about what will go wrong next. The Gaffsie tries to be her friend, but finds it difficult. When a real disaster arrives, the Fillyjonk’s worst fears are realized, but how will it affect her?

In “The Last Dragon In The World,” Moomintroll unexpectedly catches a small dragon in the pond with a jar when he was after waterbugs. At first he tries to keep it a secret, but soon everyone knows about the tiny dragon, as it flies around and catches insects with its fiery breath. The dragon takes a strong liking to Snufkin, who doesn’t want it, which makes Moomintroll sad.

In “The Hemulen Who Loved Silence,” a creature of that sort who works in a noisy amusement park punching tickets longs for a more interesting job. When a flood ruins the amusement park, the Hemulen is out of a job and goes off by himself to find a new life. He takes residence in an abandoned garden, and with help from children, gradually builds his very own amusement park where everything is beautifully silent.

In “The Invisible Child,” a creature called Ninny has been made invisible by mean treatment, and the Moomin family takes her in to try to restore her visibility. This causes trouble for everyone.

In “The Secret of the Hattifatteners,” Moominpappa’s fascination with the small electrically-charged creatures who constantly wander the earth and sea leads him to try to join them on their wandering. For a while he forgets all about his family as he learns the ways of the Hattifatteners.

In “Cedric,” Sniff gives away his most prized toy, and that makes him sad. Snufkin tries to comfort him by telling him stories, but Sniff keeps interrupting.

In “The Fir Tree,” a Hemulen wakes the Moomin family from their winter hibernation to tell them about Christmas. Soon they are running around busily like everyone else in Moomin Valley trying to prepare for a holiday they don’t understand, and decorating a fir tree as best they can.

These are all well-told stories that expand on the lives and natures of the charming creatures in Jansson’s stories. Recommended.

Tales From Moomin Valley by Tove Jansson

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