Monday, 19 December 2016

Moomins, Midwinter - Lucy Coats

Who doesn't love a Moomin? They were an integral part of my childhood, and as soon as I could I shared the magic with my own children, who loved them just as much as I did. To this day, my daughter is known as Little My, hairknot, intrepid attitude and all.

I am therefore, dear ABBA readers, delighted to share with you the news that the Moomins have descended on London, and on the Southbank Centre in particular. We all, I think, need some cheering up at the end of a very distressing year, so what better remedy than to journey through no less than seven interactive Moomish landscapes, including clambering through forests, huddling in caves and setting sail on the high seas, risking the perils of the Hattifatteners? It's the perfect antidote to the midwinter blues, as far as I'm concerned, and it's all narrated by the soothing voice of Sandi Toksvig.

As an adult reader, I now know Tove Jansson's books aren't just good stories. They were also far ahead of their time in touching on matters of sexuality and freedom. Think about Thingummy and Bob. They seem so otherworldly and innocent, with their strange language and their passion for what is hidden in their suitcase. If you realise that Jansson had a brief lesbian affaire with a woman called Vivika Bandler, and that homosexuality was illegal in Finland, the symbolism of that hidden, precious ruby becomes obvious. Look too at Snufkin, that free spirit who cannot be trammeled or tied down by the normal rules of society. Of all the characters Jansson came up with, he is the one I wanted to be. He's the one who escaped and had marvellous adventures.

Everyone has their favourite Moomin book. I was always torn between Finn Family Moomintroll and Comet in Moominland, but it's the latter I would probably choose now. The quest novel has always been a passion of mine, and every scene of that book is engraved on my brain like a series of jewels, even the more scary ones. I think it's a particularly apt book for the times in which we live. Will we manage to avoid the world-searing political comet this time around? Who knows? But whatever happens, I hope we all have a cave to retreat to with our friends and family - and enough Fire Spirit Oil to see us safe!

What's your favourite Moomin book and character, and why? I'd love to know, so do reply in the comments!

Adventures in Moominland, 16 December - 23 April at the Royal Festival Hall

OUT NOW: Cleo 2: Chosen and Cleo (UKYA historical fantasy about the teenage Cleopatra VII) '[a] sparkling thriller packed with historical intrigue, humour, loyalty and poison.' Amanda Craig, New Statesman
Also out:  Beasts of Olympus series "rippingly funny" Publishers Weekly US starred review
Lucy blogs at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure (No. 1 UK Literature Blog) 

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1 comment:

Catherine Butler said...

I can't wait to see this exhibition. For some reason my parents never introduced me to the Moomin books when I was a child, though we went through most of the classics, but I've made up for it since, and made sure my own children were innoculated early. Meanwhile, a plush Little My hangs from my rearview mirror, exhorting me to live without fear! She and Snufkin are the ones for me - alike in their self-sufficiency, but complementary in everything else.