Moominous tips for Read Hour – stories for all ages

Looking for something by Tove Jansson to read for Read Hour? We’ve got you covered! We’ve gathered a set of shorter stories and books to read during one hour, for both younger and older readers. We’ve also included a few audio pieces if you don’t have the opportunity to sit down with a book.

For the tiniest of book worms, stories to read on your belly

Moomin Baby: Words Tummy Time (2020)
A gorgeous fold-out concertina board book that is perfect for tummy time and introducing the Moomins to the tiniest of book worms. Tummy time helps to strengthen a baby’s back, neck and shoulders. The images are based on Tove Jansson’s original Moomin illustrations. The bold patterns and high-contrast colours are designed to help stimulate a baby’s developing eyesight. In this beautiful new range of baby books, Tove Jansson’s much-loved world of the Moomins is brought to life for the very youngest of readers.

Picture books for Moomin fans ages 3-6 years

The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My (1952) 
With The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, Tove Jansson made her international breakthrough as a picture book author.

The bold and unconventional colors, holes in the pages, constant cliffhangers and scary landscapes – including massive vacuum cleaners and lost mothers – made the book unique, especially amongst children’s books. It was published in English in 1953, a year after the original version in Swedish. Here you can watch our short documentary, shedding new light on the first Moomin picture book.

Moomintroll Sets Sail (2021)
Join the Moomins on an ocean adventure in this stunning picture book, from a series based on Tove Jansson’s classic tales. The Moomins, Sniff and Little My are setting off across the high seas in Moominpappa’s new boat. Along the way they will encounter a swarm of mischievous niblings, Edward the gigantic Booble, and a very cross Hemulen aunt. Will they make it back safely to Moominvalley . . . or could they be lost at sea?

This beautiful re-telling of Tove Jansson’s beloved stories is perfect for Moomin fans of all ages. Combining the spirit of Jansson’s original warm and witty text with stunning illustrations of all her most beloved characters, Moomintroll Sets Sail is a heartwarming story of kindness, adventure and courage, as the Moomins come to realise that although adventure is exciting, home is always best.

For friends of the new Moominvalley animation (from about 5-7 years)

Adventures in Moominvalley (2020)
Surprising things happen every day in Moominvalley – luckily the Moomin family and their friends embrace the unexpected with their characteristic humour, kindness and charm. This beautiful book contains nine exciting adventure stories – all closely based on the warm and whimsical Moomin world and characters created by Tove Jansson.

Presented in chronological order, each story in Adventures in Moominvalley is taken from an episode of the 3D animation series and set in the idyllic and peaceful valley where the round blue Moominhouse stands. The stories in this collection will delight Moomin fans of all ages.

Chapters from Tales from Moominvalley (1962, for those who can read)

Tales from Moominvalley (1962)
Tales from Moominvalley is a collection of nine delightful Moomin short stories, all suitable for one hour of reading. The book includes the story of The Invisible Child – one of Tove Jansson’s most loved stories, about the little girl Ninni, who has become invisible due to mistreatment. With the kindness and support of the Moomin family, she slowly gains self esteem and becomes visible again. Other highlights include The Fir Tree, where the Moomins encounter “something horrible” called Christmas for the first time, and The Last Dragon in the World, revealing the true essence of friendship.

The Moomin comics (from around 7 years up)

Tove Jansson made her international breakthrough as a cartoonist with the Moomins comic strip in the biggest British evening paper, the Evening News, which syndicated the comics in 40 countries. The comics can work as an easy gateway into the Moomin universe for school children and up, even though the humour in the Moomin comics might be even more appealing to adults. Here are two classic Moomin comics to start with:

Moominvalley Turns Jungle
A crate filled with tropical seeds washes ashore, and when Moominmamma plants the seeds, a lush rainforest erupts in Moominvalley. When Stinky liberates some exotic animals from the zoo, chaos ensues, and the Moomins are forced to prove once and for all whether or not they’re related to hippopotamuses.

Moomin Falls in Love
Moominvalley is flooded, so Snorkmaiden and Moomin head out to rescue anyone stranded in the deluge. They bring home Miss La Goona, the leading lady of the visiting circus, who turns out to be quite a demanding houseguest. Nonetheless, Moomin, having read a few too many romantic novels, falls head over heels in love with her, and chaos ensues. Tove Jansson’s flawless cartooning is brought to life in a whole new way within these pages. A delight for the whole family!

Short stories inspired by Tove Jansson’s childhood (for adult readers)

Sculptor’s Daughter (1963)
Tove Jansson’s first book for a purely adult audience drew on her childhood memories to capture afresh the enchantments and fears of growing up in Helsinki in the 1910s and 20s. Her startlingly evocative prose offers a glimpse of the mysteries of winter ice, the bonhomie of balalaika parties, and the vastness of Christmas viewed from beneath the tree. In the short story Parties, for example, a little girl is woken up by “the most beautiful music there is, balalaika
and guitar”, during one of the many parties that could go on for days and nights in her home in Katajanokka in Helsinki.

The Sculptor’s Daughter also depicts the calmness of the archipelago during endless summer days. In the short story Snow, however, Jansson describes a child and her mother who are snowed in, whilst staying in a country house for some days during winter. “All the lamps were soft and misty and made a very tiny circle of light. And when you ran you made no noise. It was just the same outside. Soft and vague and the snow went on falling and falling.” The isolation feels scary from the child’s perspective at frist. But slowly, it  creates a peculiar but warm and light atmosphere, where the two of them are encapsulated in their own universe – perhaps a bit reminiscent of when you dive into the magical world of stories for one hour?

For those who’d rather listen

Sometimes it’s nice to kick back and relax and just listen to a good story. The following two stories are available online, just one click away.

The Invisible Child (In Tales from Moominvalley, 1962)

Tove Jansson’s short story The Invisible Child is an important reminder of the power of caring, and it works beautifully as a vehicle for helping children learn about empathy and about how important it is to see and to be seen. Listen to the story read by Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson, and reflect upon it with the help of a learning material with questions related to the story.

The Island (1961)

A downloadable audio piece by multi-instrumentalist and contemporary composer Erland Cooper, who hails from the Orkney Isles. The piece is brought to life with on location field recordings by Kirsi Ihalainen as well as a spoken word contribution of Jansson’s essay ‘The Island’, read by her niece and Creative Director of Moomin Oy Ltd. Sophia Jansson. This is the first official English translation of this beautiful essay, translated by Thomas Teal, who has a wide experience in translating Jansson’s prose.  Escape to Tove’s Island and help support London Wildlife Trust.

You can also read the short story The Island here, translated by Pulitzer Prize finalist Hernan Diaz for The Paris Review Daily.