Emily's Reviews > Comet in Moominland

Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
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's review
Jun 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-aloud, my-happy-childhood
Read from June 01 to 10, 2010

Just revisited this book for the first time in a long while by reading it aloud to my 6 year-old. Two main thoughts:

1. I love Tove Jansson. She always writes with a slightly off-beat charm (one of my favorite bits in this book is the title of the butterfly collecting Hemulin's book, Moths of the Eastern Hemisphere: their Behavior and Misbehavior) and her stories tend to swing uneasily between the surreal (Hattifatteners, anyone?) and the comforting (coffee and cake), a style which I found somewhat confusing as a child, but came to adore when I reread the books in college. However, this is one of her earliest books, and it shows. After Moomintroll and his friends learn that a comet is threatening the earth, they travel to an observatory to learn more about it. Much of the story consists of them encountering one peril after another on their long journey. It gets a little repetitive, and that contributes to a general flatness and lack of emotional depth to this book. Also there's some rather tedious gender stereotyping in the relationship between Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden -- even as a child, I thought the Snork Maiden was overdoing the damsel in distress act. But I can forgive Jansson all this for the wonderful chapter about crossing the dried up sea on stilts.

2. This perhaps was not the best choice of book to read aloud to a child who is already prone to fanatsizing and worring about calamatous events, such as the sun blowing up. But I told him it had a happy ending (that's not a spoiler, right? I mean we know they're not wiped out by the comet because of all the sequels), and he enjoyed it a lot, and I loved reading it aloud. We are ready to start Finn Family Moomintroll!

ETA: Days after finishing this, I've decided to change my review to four stars, because despite its flaws the book has stuck with me, and the writing was so lovely and the penultimate chapter so exciting.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Emily Chandra, I read James and the Giant Peach as a kid and liked it a lot -- it was also the subject of my prize winning diorama in 5th grade! I hadn't thought of it yet as a read aloud possibility, but I bet my son would love the insect characters. So many possibilities -- it's such a joy that we've finally gotten into the groove of reading chapter books aloud.

Abigail, you can never take go wrong steering anyone to the Moomins as far as I'm concerned. As the series go on they get deeper and richer without losing their quirkiness.

message 2: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Lol, I have a 7 year old Aspie who has a thing about calamatous events too! I glad to see all your reviews on books I've been thinking about for him. Thanks for posting them.

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