The Exploits of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson

The Professor of Truth cover

The Exploits of Moominpappa (described by himself) by Tove Jansson was first published in 1952, but I don’t recall ever reading any of the Moomin books as a child, or even to my own boys when they were wee. I thought I should have a look and see what they are about as I know the books are very popular, so when I saw this Puffin paperback in a second-hand bookshop in Edinburgh – I bought it.

I suspect that this one isn’t your usual Moomin book though, I have no idea what age the books were aimed at but this one seems more suited to adults really, certainly not very young children – not that there’s anything untoward in it. It reminded me of the craziness of Alice in Wonderland – Jansson obviously had a great imagination.

The Preface begins: I, Moominpappa am sitting tonight by my window looking out into my garden, where the fireflies embroider their mysterious signs on the velvet dark. Perishable flourishes of a short but happy life!

Moominpappa was abandoned as a youngster on the doorstep of an orphanage which was ruled over by a Hemulen – a very strict personage. Eventually, when he’s old enough he runs away and builds his own house, by a brook and soon he meets Hodgkins who has a houseboat called Oshun, Oxtra, it was supposed to be The Ocean Orchestra but the Muddler painted it and spelling isn’t his strong point and before long they sail off and meet up with various others on their adventure. It was a fun read, but I’m not sure that this one is a typical Moomin book. Have you read any of them?

7 thoughts on “The Exploits of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson

  1. I simply must read these books! Like you I never read them as a child or read them to my own children although my daughter read them for herself and loved them. All I recall, whenever I came across one or saw the tv series, is that I was somewhat mystified. I would love to read them now and this one sounds like a good one for me as I do like to have a context so the baskstory to Moominpapa might help explain things.

  2. I’d like to read them and was considering buying the first one for my grandnieces (ages 8 1/2 and 6 1/2 but precocious readers). But, they don’t seem to be readily available in the US. I almost ordered two copies from Amazon.UK, but the total for the two books was $16 and the shipping was over $9. Maybe I’m cheap, but I’ll wait to see if they become available here.

    • Joan,
      It is surprising how expensive they are. Maybe you should look for second-hand copies that should be much cheaper, and start the girls off on a lifetime’s love of old books! But then – there’s the postage.

  3. I read and enjoyed the Moomin books when I was young. In most of the books, it is Moominpappa’s son Moomintroll who is the central character. The books do change as they go along. The first few have more action, and the last couple (“Moominpappa at Sea” and “Moominvalley in November”) are more introspective. As a child, I did not like these last two, but perhaps I would appreciate them more now. My personal favourite is “Moominsummer Madness”, which has some action and some humour as well.

    • Ed,
      Thanks for that info, I’ll definitely read Moominsummer Madness when I can get a copy of it. I think ‘The Exploits’ was really more suitable for an older reader too, more introspective.

  4. I have not read any of the Moomin books and don’t remember reading them to my son. As noted, some of them are pretty expensive here in the US. I might try reading one as a Kindle, which might be more affordable, just to get a taste of them.

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