Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Moomins are the central characters in a series of books by Finnish Tove Jansson. They are a family of trolls. In appearance, they are white and furry with large snouts that make them resemble Hippopotamuses.
The Moomins also appeared in the form of comic strips; their first appearance was in the London Evening News in 1954. Tove Jansson drew and wrote all the strips until 1959 when she lost inspiration. After this her brother Lars Jansson, who could duplicate the style of drawings and texts accurately, took over the job until 1975 when the last strip was released. The strips were made in English and then translated to other languages.
The Moomin family
Moomintroll is the main character of most of the books, a spirited teenager with a keen sense of adventure and fun, and a generous spirit.
Moominmamma is the mother of Moomintroll. She very rarely gets cross and takes even the most distressing circumstances (such as the arrival of a comet, or being washed away by a flood) in her stride. Moominmamma never denies anything from her child and his friends, not even smoking (she says it's good for the stomach). Moominmamma is almost never without her handbag.
Moominpappa is a somewhat restless soul who was adventurous in his youth but has now settled down determined to be a responsible father to his family, but with a nostalgic longing for his past life. Before the birth of Moomintroll, Moominpappa was simply known as Moomin. His own parents are unknown, and he was orphaned at a very young age and sent into an orphanage run by a ruthless teacher. After a few years, he escaped, and had an adventure where he met various exciting characters.
The books in the series, in order, are:
- Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen - 1945
- Kometjakten / Kometen kommer (Comet in Moominland ) - 1946
- Trollkarlens hatt (Finn Family Moomintroll ') - 1948
- Muminpappans bravader / Muminpappans memoarer (Moominpappa's Memoirs/The Exploits of Moominpappa ) - 1950
- Farlig midsommar (Moominsummer Madness ) - 1954
- Trollvinter (Moominland Midwinter ) - 1957
- Det osynliga barnet (Tales from Moominvalley ) - 1969 (short stories)
- Pappan och havet (Moominpappa at Sea ) - 1965
- Sent i november (Moominvalley in November ) - 1970 (in which the Moomin family is absent)
The first book, known in English as The Little Trolls and the Big Flood (original Swedish title Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen) has not yet been officially published in English.
There are also several Moomin picture books by Tove Jansson - those include Hur gick det sen (The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, 1952), Vem ska trösta knyttet (Who Will Comfort Toffle, 1960), and Skurken i Mummihuset (An Unwanted Guest, 1980).
The books and comic strips have been translated from their original Swedish and English into many languages.
There are several spin-off TV animation series, one Polish and three Japanese, and a large merchandising industry.
On Moomin characters
The life partner of Tove Jansson was the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä, whose personality inspired the character Too-Ticky in Moominland Midwinter. Moomintroll and Little My can be seen as psychological self-portraits of the artist. The Moomins, generally speaking, relate strongly to Jansson's own family - they were boheme, lived near the nature, were very tolerant towards diversity. Some of Jansson's characters are on the verge of melancholy, such as the always formal Hemulens, or the strange Hattifatteners who travel in concerted, ominous groups. The novelist Alison Lurie has described the Groke, a black, hill-shaped creation with glowing eyes, as a walking manifestation of Nordic gloominess - everyone she touches, dies and the ground freezes everywhere she sits.
The Moomin stories have very humane message. The books have caprices and utterances which ponder life and ways of the world. Snufkin comments freedom: "One can never be entirely free, if one admires someone else too much." Little My expresses possession: "Possession means worries and luggage bags one has to drag along."
In addition to the Moomin family, the following characters appear in many of the books:
- Sniff - a small, immature creature, cowardly yet ambitious.
- The Muskrat - a philosopher who believes in the pointlessness of things.
- Snufkin - Moomintroll's best friend, who goes south every winter and returns in the spring. He is the son of the Mymble and the Joxter, and is half-brother to the Mymble's daughter and Little My. Snufkin is an adventurer and a vagabond, admired by those who are small and shy. Snufkin wears old clothes and lives in a tent. He plays mouth-organ.
- The Snork Maiden - Moomintroll's lady friend and admirer.
- The Snork - The Snork Maiden's organize-loving brother.
- The Hemulen - an avid collector. Hemulen is also a name of a species. Hemulens are typically very organized and orderly.
- The Groke - She is cold and ghostlike, and represents all that is scary in the world of Moomin. She seeks warmth and fire, but is unable to do anything but to put them out.
- Little My - She is a small, determined and fiercely independent of Mymble. When she wants something done, she does it straight away. She is very aggressive and totally disrespectful, but can be a good friend.
- Mymble's daughter, later known as simply the Mymble, is the oldest of Mymble's many children. Every bit as independent as her youngest sibling, little My, Mymble's daughter is very proud of being the oldest sibling, and considers it her duty to raise Little My.
- Too-Ticky - A friend of the family. Has her first appearance in the novel Moominland Midwinter. She is modelled after Tuulikki Pietilä, Tove Jansson's life partner.
- Stinky - He is not exactly a friend of the Moomin family, more like an acquintance. Stinky is something of a bad guy in the series, he values money and power greatly and will not hesitate to resort to crime in order to get them. However, he is good enough at heart to maintain a level of mutual tolerance with the other characters, and although he is a kind of "enemy" to the other Moomins, he is an old friend of Moominpappa. Physically, Stinky is some sort of furry mammal, whose most characteristic attribute is his constant, unbearable stench.
- Hattifatteners - Small white ghost-like creatures that always go in groups, often in boat convoys. Hattifatteners can not hear or see, nor can they speak, but they can feel ground's vibrations and electricity. Their only goal is to reach the horizon, they should be avoided during thunder because they became electric during one. Despite physiologically resembling animals, Hattifatteners grow from seeds. Planting Hattifattener seeds where someone has taken up residence is an effective way to get rid of him/her.
- Fillyjonk - Fillyjonk is the opposite of the Moomin family. Not a single moment of fantasy or joy, only duties and discipline. She is an extremely methodical person tied down with principles and has a deep rooted belief in prestige and tradition. But in a catastrophy, Fillyjonk may behave totally irrationally. Deep inside she probably has a wish to live like the Moomin family, without any worries. She is most often accompanied by her three children.
- The Ancestor - the Moomintrolls descend from ancient creatures living in tiled stoves. One of those is still dwelling in the Moomin family's bathing house cupboard and stove. He is called the Ancestor and makes appearances in Moominland Midwinter and Moominvalley in November.
- Misabel - a very depressed and paranoid female character. In comics and picture books, she is usually the Moomin family's domestic help. Misabel has her only novel appearance in Moominsummer Madness, in which she is not a domestic help, but shows up to be a good actress. She is sometimes the owner of Sorry-oo. It has been said that Misabel's initial reaction to anyone talking to her is fear of them complaining about the quality of her work.
- Sorry-oo - a small dog appearing in various relations - however, he is always melancholy and longing. He has his only novel appearance in Moominland Midwinter, in which he is constantly howling after his distant cousins the wolves.
There are other characters who appear from time to time.
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