The Moomins have a new neighbor named Mrs. Fillyjonk, and she is a housekeeping expert, if she does say so herself—and does she ever say it! Her house is an order of perfection. No messes or overripe apples here! And no fireworks either. She shames the Moomins into hiring a maid to help them around their house. Misabel takes up the position, and it’s clear she is more than up to the task of keeping things clean! Although…she does like to do things differently than the Moomins do. And she could use a little bit of cheering up. Maybe the Moomins can help cheer her up just a bit? And maybe encourage her to be a little bit less…let’s just say, well organized.
First of all, if you have never read the Moomins before, go pick up a few of their other books to read with this one. Not that you have to read the other books to understand this one, but everyone should partake in the awesome that are the Moomins. Seriously. The Moomins are classic characters created by Tove Jansson. They are gentle, although slightly eccentric…hippos. Or at least they look like hippos, and they just want to live life to its fullest. Moominpapa, Moominmama, and Moomintroll are the core of the family with other characters showing up in various series, but Moominmama is the main Moomin we see in this adventure.
I think what I love about this story is that Moominmama just wants to do right by her family, but doesn’t really want to give up how they live. And I don’t mean their belongings, but the freedom of how they go about their lives. Misabel is always worried that she’ll fail or that she’ll break things or that something will make noise. She’s convinced that she has to to live up to this higher standard, this ideal. But the Moomins aren’t about that. They’d like to have things a bit more organized, but overall they just want to live and let live. And that’s the lesson Moominmama teaches Misabel: that it’s okay to fail and to break things and to do things that are scary. That sometimes, that’s what life is and you have to be okay with it. And that sometimes, those things that you thought were scary can actually be kinda fun. And you can be okay with that too.
It’s a bit odd to talk about the art of the Moomins as it feels like trying to talk about Peanuts or Calvin & Hobbes. It is so classic and yet still timely. For being created and drawn in the 1950s (these are all strips from the newspaper), the colors have surprising depth to them. It reminds me of the original Pink Panther cartoons. With the stark white of the Moomins against their bright, lively backgrounds. Just the way they move on the page feels like a cartoon, which is wonderful. I also love that some of the panel dividers in these strips are utensils, like forks and knives. It’s just a nice little detail hidden in there.
I’ve become a big fan of the Moomins over the last couple of years, and this book is no exception. Such a short sweet tale that’s a great analogy about taking pleasure in life, not just with how you go about keeping the house, but also in how you look at the world around you. If you’re a fan of Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes, then the Moomins should be on your list of must read books.
by Tove Jansson
Drawn and Quarterly, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 10-13