‘The Moomins and the Great Flood’ by Tove Jansson (Review)

IMG_5289While I’ve had lots planned for Women In Translation Month for a while now, involving my little assistant wasn’t originally one of them.  However, a little while back, when I tweeted about finishing Tove Jansson’s novel The True Deceiver, Olga said:

“I hope Emily participates in #WITMonth 🙂 You can do a Tove Jansson double bill, for example.”

Which explains how we got to today’s post… 🙂

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called The Moomins and the Great Flood and it’s by Tove Jansson (and it’s translated by David McDuff).

What’s it about?
It’s about these white creatures with hippopotamus heads called Moomins who set out on an adventure to build a nice warm house.  On the way, they meet lots of new friends and a few enemies.  Then their adventure turns into a quest for Moominpappa, last seen wandering with the Hattifatteners!

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
It was funny at some times and a bit old-fashioned, but I liked it (I especially liked it because my Mum read it to me!).

What was your favourite part?
My favourite part was when Tulippa saved the Moomins and the little creature from the swamp monster by using her shining blue hair 🙂

Was it difficult to read?
It was easy to read 🙂

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
I’m not sure.  I don’t know any kids that would like this book – it’s not really what kids in my class would read.  The books we read are usually covered in sparkles and are about superheroes, fairies, princesses or mermaids 😉

Emily, thank you very much.

The Moomins and the Great Flood was Jansson’s first Moomins book, and in the short foreword here, she explains how the work sprang from her inability to pursue her real love (art) during the dark winter of 1939.  The story then languished in a drawer until 1945 when she was persuaded to have it published, and the rest, as they say, is history 🙂

I read all of the Moomins books when I was (much) younger, but I’d forgotten what they WITMonth15were like.  Skimming through this one, I quickly saw that it was a rather quirky tale, dark in places, a story which never really stops.  Moominmamma, Moomintroll and the ‘creature’ keep on keeping on, meeting wonderfully bizarre folk along the way, always hoping to catch up with the absent Moominpappa at some point.

As noted above, Emily had this read to her by her Mum over a few nights before bed, and when I asked if she wanted to do a review, she decided (like the conscientious little reviewer she is) to go through it again by herself.  The truth, though, is that she wasn’t really overly impressed with the book – I suspect that the appeal lay more in being read to…

Which is a shame as there’s a lot to like about The Moomins and the Great Flood.  The writing (and McDuff’s translation) is excellent, and the edition we borrowed from the library (from Sort Of Books) is a lovely book, full of Jansson’s ink drawings.  The story does race along, and that might be to its detriment – no sooner have the travellers encountered a new friend than they’ve rushed off into the darkness again.  Also, as Emily mentioned, with competition from princesses and superheroes about, modern kids might not be too bothered about little white hippo-type creatures…

Still, I’m hopeful Emily will give the Moomins another go at some point as I believe the later books are a little more complex.  Having said that, the next book in the series, Comet in Moominland, is one which gave me nightmares when I was a little boy.  Perhaps we really should wait a little longer for our next trip to Moominland after all… 😉

10 thoughts on “‘The Moomins and the Great Flood’ by Tove Jansson (Review)

  1. Very honest review! I feel this is one of the slighter books in the series (it was translated into English for the first time in the recent edition I believe). The later ones are more complex but they all have a darkness and a strangeness and I don’t know whether they *would* appeal to modern-day young people – with their sparkly stuff! I think my kids *might* have taken to them, but alas I wasn’t Moomin-aware when they were growing up! 🙂


  2. Hi Tony, I’m curious to know about the Moominvalley, so I ordered this book at my local library. The books are translated in Dutch, we’ll see. In the meantime I’m reading “The tale of Genji” in the new Dutch translation. That is really a wonderful book. I’m only on a third way trough but I already consider this as one of the very greatest novels I ever read. Thanks for the recommendation! Greetings, Erik


    1. Erik – Well, the Moomins are more for children, but her adult fiction (as shown in my last review) is also very good. Also, very glad to hear that you’re persevering with Genji – and enjoying it 🙂


  3. Dear Emily –

    I enjoyed reading your Moomin review very much. It was such a nice idea to publish it on the day when Tove Jansson was born, 101 (!) years ago! It made me go back in time and remember myself reading this book in a cold far-away country, where not too many princesses or superheroes were allowed 🙂

    I like your thoughtful and honest way of talking about the book, and I was very impressed that you not only listened to it, but read it yourself afterwards – not too many grown-ups would do that! Your parents should be very proud of you!

    I would like to wish you many exciting book adventures. Your reviews are always fun to read and they are great guide for parents trying to choose books for young readers in their families.

    Your reader, Olga.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Olga – Emily is very happy you enjoyed her review (she’s gone a bit shy now, so I have to write the comment!). Of course, none of this would have come about without your tweet, Olga, so thank you very much too 🙂


  4. This is one that I haven’t read with my children (yet), but we’ve read most of the other Moomins together and – was it under pressure from me because I love them so? don’t think so, they never pay the slightest bit of attention to anything else that I recommend – they did love them. They go around using expressions like ‘Bless my tail’, which makes me gurgle with pride and joy. I used to love them as a child, but I do probably enjoy them even more now. I think a whole hidden layer of meaning only reveals itself as an adult.


    1. Marina Sofia – That’s good to hear 🙂 We got this one from the library as it’s the first chronologically for the characters, but perhaps the later ones are better – let’s see how we go next time…


      1. And please say thank you to Emily for her great reviews. She takes them very seriously. I wish I could get mine to say more than ‘yeah, good’ or ‘it was OK-ish’.


        1. Marina Sofia – Well, she must be at a good age 🙂 It does take a bit of effort on my part to get her to do them at times, though 😉


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