Classic Graphic: The Moomin stories

moomin_history_tove_jansson-cfb36ad907e5b10ec440f2105589c600                               pee-hoo

Today is the birthday of Finnish author, artist and cartoonist Tove Marika Jansson. Tove was born in Helsinki on 9 August 1914 and died on 27 June 2001 at the age of 86.

Tove Jansson was a member of the Swedish speaking minority in Finland. She was raised by bohemian artist parents, who encouraged a love of nature and an appreciation of diversity in their children. Tove studied art in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris. Her siblings also grew up to become artists.

Tove Janson is the most widely read Finnish author outside her own country. Shemoomin_by_marzymarrs-d8wj23y received wide recognition for her short stories, novels, picture books, plays and a comic strip. Tove also exhibited paintings and graphic art and was commissioned to create public art works. Although Tove wrote for both children and adults, she is best known and loved for her Moomin stories.

230px-Finn_FamilyIn 1945 Söderström & Co published Tove’s first Moomin story The Moomins and the Great Flood in Swedish. This was followed by Comet In Moominland in 1946 and Finn Family Moomintroll or The Magician’s Hat in 1948.

Tove continued writing about the adventures of the Moomin family throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 the International Board on Books for Young People awarded Tove the Hans Christian Andersen award, which is the highest accolade that can be given to a writer or illustrator of children’s books.

Following the translation into English of her books Tove was approached by a British publisher to transform her Moomin stories in a comic strip format. In 1954, the famous London newspaper The Evening News started to publish it. In order to allow his sister more time for her visual art projects, Tove’s brother Lars Jansson took over drawing the comic strip from 1960.  It ran up until 1974.

In 1970, Tove ceased writing Moomin stories with the publication of her ninth and last Moomin book Moominvalley in November. She later published a somewhat eerie children’s picture book called The Dangerous Journey in 1977, which is about different characters but takes place in the world of Moominvalley.

Tove went on to write an acclaimed novel for adults, which focuses on the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother who are living on an island. The Summer Book (1972) is her best known work of fiction which has been translated into English. Throughout her life, Tove produced six novels and five books of short stories for an adult audience.

Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories have been adapted for film, the stage, television series, an opera and a theme park. Her books have been translated into several languages.

You can reserve books about Tove Jansson’s life through the One Card Network online. Visit the official Tove Jansson website at http://tovejansson.com/

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CharactersA friend asked me to post about Tove Jansson, so I decided to explore the world of the Moomins, to discover why both children and adults are still captivated by them.

So you may ask, what exactly is a Moomin? Are they really trolls?

Fear not, the Moomins are not your average ugly, stupid trolls lurking in the mountains or under bridges, lying in wait to catch their next meal. The Moomins are cute, kindly fairytale characters who are plump and white and resemble hippopotamuses! They are intelligent, literate and make their home in a tower in Mooninvalley, living alongside a host of eccentric characters.

Tove’s stories are full of lighthearted humour. Her simple and colourful ‘retro’ style illustrations will appeal to children. She cleverly parodies many different concepts in her Moomin stories, from becoming famous, vanity, the theatre, the legal profession to buying unnecessary modern kitchen gadgets.

Young Moomin or Moomintroll, as he is known in the original Swedish version, is a sweet-natured, brave and somewhat naïve character, making his way in the world. Moomin lives with his close knit family, his mother Moominmamma, father Moominpappa and girlfriend Snorkmaiden.

Moomin familyThe Moomin family is always ready to embrace new experiences, meet new people and welcome them into their home.

Moonminpappa enjoys reading and philosophising. Moominpappa’s romantic view of himself leads to all sorts of grand plans such as moving his family to a lighthouse so he can write a grand novel. The more practical Moominmamma takes pride in her home and loves her garden. She prefers to live simply but comfortably.

Moominmamma is skilled at making others know that they may not have made the best decisions, without making her family feel bad about themselves. Her serenity helps us to realise that everything will eventually turn out okay. However, Moominmamma is not immune from falling into the trap of keeping up appearances and competing with her neighbour Mrs Fillyjonk!

Pretty Snorkmaiden is a dreamer. She and Moomin are devoted to each other.  However, she can be insecure, overly concerned with her Snorkmaidenappearance and with getting Moomin’s attention. The adopted Little My causes chaos in the Moonmin household but she is perceptive and brings other characters down to earth with her sharp observations.

Tove Jansson’s work is original and surrealOn their numerous adventures, many of the characters that The Moomin family encounters are of indeterminate species. For example, at first glance Too-Ticky appears to be human, until you notice her strange birdlike feet. The fearless Little My is so small she can fit incharacter_mymble_familyto the pocket of her half-brother Snufkin. She looks remarkably like her mother, older sister Mymble and her seventeen younger siblings. A ghost who haunts a lighthouse resembles a sausage with legs!

The Moomin books teach us about the importance of family and friendship and about accepting others for their uniqueness. They value living a simple life, staying close to the beauty of nature and just being happy. The Moomins are always ready to help other characters, as everyone is important and needs a purpose.

You can borrow the Moomin stories and graphic novels (which comprise episodes from the Moomin comic strip) across the One Card Network. Tove Jansson’s work has also been adapted to bring her characters to younger readers, through a series of new picture books. Search the catalogue online, or enquire next time you visit the Library. Why not also visit the official Moomin site: https://www.moomin.com/en/

And yes, I could be hooked.

All about Roald Dahl and The BFG

Work experience student Verona is an avid reader and has always loved the stories of children’s writer, Roald Dahl. In this blog post, she shares her travel tale, when she and her son visited the Roald Dahl Museum in England.

Who has seen the new movie The BFG? I haven’t yet but it’s high up on my list of things to do. When my son was little (he’s 13 now so I’m not allowed to call him little anymore) he loved reading Roald Dahl’s books. He has read every one of his children’s books. We started off reading them together and then as he got older he read them by himself. It renewed my love for his stories. We even got to visit the Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre on a family trip to England.

The Story Centre is in a town called Great Missenden and it is where Roald Dahl lived for years and wrote many of his stories.

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This is a picture of the outside of the Story Centre.

Roald Dahl

Inside the Story Centre there is a replica of the chair that Roald Dahl sat in to write all of his books.

It was here that my son got his copy of The BFG. The BFG, like many of Roald Dahl’s children’s stories is darkly comic and includes ‘gross topics’ that were often not written about. They include offbeat and imaginary characters. Roald Dahl often portrays the adults in his stories as cruel and the language he uses can border on inappropriate and this often appeals to children. You might then be wondering about the suitability of his books for your younger children. I would recommend starting with some of his lighter books such as The Enormous Crocodile or Fantastic Mr Fox and reading them together with your child but with anything, you as a parent have the best idea of what they will find amusing and what they will find too scary or dark to read.

With the movie The BFG in cinemas at the moment, now is a perfect time to explore not only the book of The BFG, but also some of his other stories. TTG Library has many of his stories and they are available in books, audio books and some DVDs. The library has an old animated movie of the BFG available on DVD to borrow.

Roald Dahl’s books are over 40-50 years old but they are still enormously popular today. The library has multiple copies of all his popular stories but you might need to place a reserve on the one that you want to borrow so that you don’t miss out.

Come into the library to have a look at not only the collection of Roald Dahl books but others that are similar in style.

Summer Reading Club 2015-16 Wrap-Up

Well done to the 54 children who participated in the recent Summer Reading Club, held over the summer school holidays.

Tea Tree Gully Library received 70 logs and 46 reviews of books – and we are proud to say after totaling all of the figures, a grand total of 746 books were read.

Congratulations!

This high number of books read is a credit to our young readers who live in the Tea Tree Gully area. Reading is incredibly important not just for education and comprehension, but also for developing communication skills, empathy, logic & reasoning and a greater ability to focus and concentration. If you need greater convincing, check out more reasons for why children should read here here and here.

Some of the children who read lots of books or submitted some stand-out book reviews were invited with their families to the Pegi Williams Bookshop in Walkerville to purchase new books for the children’s collection. They also received a Pegi Williams Book Shop voucher to buy a book for themselves. We had so much fun selecting new books together.

Look out for the new books on our shelves soon. And keep reading!

Children’s Book Council – Book of the Year Awards

Book Week is upon us and with that means the announcement of this years Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year awards.

The shortlist was announced in April, and the overall winners in each category were revealed at a special event last Friday.

twoblanketsMy Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood took out the Best Picture Book. A story about  new ways of speaking, new ways of living, and new ways of being. Cartwheel has recently arrived somewhere new and finds security and safety in her old blanket. She discovers new friendships and sense of belonging as she weaves a new blanket. 

GotoSleepJessie

Go to Sleep Jessie, written by Libbie Gleeson and again illustrated by Freya Blackwood was the winner in the Early Childhood area. demonstrating the love and also frustration of sharing a room with a younger sibling who will not sleep. This is a story that many families have experienced.

In the Young Readers category; The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and the Present was the winner, written by the same team as Go to Sleep Jessie. The Goodreads website say it’s delightful, warm and irresistible, these stories show how a little girl with a big imagination can always find a way to have fun.

protected

For the teens, The Protected, by Claire Zorn won the Older Readers category. Following an accident that left Hannah an only child, this book delves into the horror, guilt and depression that followed and Hannah’s story of rebuilding herself. Raw and deep one not to be missed.

All of these titles are available from the Library, and you can see the full list of winners and honourable mentions here.

Books light up our world

The Children’s Book Council of Australia celebrates it’s 70th anniversary in 2015, with Children’s Book Week on again from 22-28 August. The theme this year is Books Light Up Our World.

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We hosted a performance of The Book Show by Splash Theatre Company at the Golden Grove Arts Centre today, for over 300 local school students.

The books they brought to life included:

The Book with No Pictures by B.J.Novak (one of our favourites!)

Wolves by Emily Gravett

The Pointless Leopard by Colas Gutman

The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey,

Redback on the Toilet Seat by Slim Newton.

The actors also held a Q&A session after the performance, answering some great questions about how the show was written, how long it took to rehearse and what other books they would have liked to include in the show.

Thanks to Splash Theatre Company’s Andrew, Ezra and Mariana for a great show!

Happy Book Week everyone!

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An evening with Alice

Presented by Catlin Langford, enthusiast and collector.

1book28 White rabbit

Illustrations by Sir John Tenniel from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, 1865: The Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit.

ingpenAlicecvr   Alice-In-Wonderland-1972-Movie

Illustrated by Robert Ingpen, 2009          Film, Alice In Wonderland, 1972.

When:  Wednesday 8 July from 6.30 – 7.30pm.

Where:  Relaxed Reading Area, City of Tea Tree Gully Library.

Cost:  Free.  Bookings are essential.

2015 marks 150 years since the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, considered as one of the most famous works of children’s literature. An Evening with Alice will investigate the numerous ideas, people, food, and paintings that inspired Carroll’s celebrated work of literature, providing an insight into topics as diverse as the Pre- Raphaelite group, to the not-so-beautiful turtle soup, to poisonous hats, and pet wombats.

You can book for An Evening with Alice here or telephone the Library on 8397 7333.

If you are of a crafty disposition, enjoy a sweet treat and are interested in everything ‘Alice’, READ ME.

Anstey recommends: ANZAC Biscuits by Phil Cummings

To commemorate ANZAC Day, Anstey the Library’s resident mascot thought it might be fitting to review the children’s picture book ANZAC Biscuits, by South Australian children’s author Phil Cummings.

Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings

Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings

This touching story is about an Australian family torn apart by war. Set during the time of World War I, Rachel and her mother are at home on their farm in their warm and safe kitchen, while a young soldier is miles away across the ocean in the trenches of a cold dark battlefield.

“Let’s make some biscuits for Dad,” suggests Rachel’s mother, and she and her daughter begin to mix ingredients and set about baking biscuits.

With each turn of the page the story moves back and forth, from the warm family kitchen where Rachel and her mum are baking the special biscuits, to the cold bleak battlefield where the young soldier is struggling to stay warm.

Illustrator Owen Swan has done an amazing job with his pictures. The kitchen scenes are painted in warm yellow hues which contrast with the grey illustrations of the soldier’s world. As the scenes flit back and forth some clues are given to the identity of the young soldier. The final pages reveal the young soldier to be Rachel’s father and how he is very grateful for a gift from home.

“These are the best biscuits ever … Daddy will love them, won’t he?” said Rachel. And he did.

You can borrow Anzac Biscuits from the library here. There are lots of other books on ANZAC Day as well.