So I’m likely to be one of the only adults outside of Finland who will actually admit to reading the Moomin series on summer vacation, but I love those little guys so much that I have no shame and will admit to my actions. Besides, if I continued to reread Master and Margarita or my latest acquisition, Ernst Pawel’s biography of Kafka, The Nightmare of Reason, I’d probably consider just wafting out into the waves and never returning, Edna Ponteiller style. Something light and fun is necessary for the beach!
If you are unfamiliar with the Moomins, the endearing little creations by Finnish author Tove Jansson, I strongly suggest you acclimate yourself to their world and the whole slew of characters faster than you can shake a stick at.
In Moominsummer Madness, a horrible flood washes through Moominvalley, disbanding the family into different corners of their home. It is the fun, humorous, and, somehow, not-at-all-anxiety-producing adventure of how the family meets up again, which involves having to become prisoners, sail through Moominvalley, and write and perform in a play all written in “blank verse,” because that is what all good plays are written in.
The Moomins are little hippo-like creatures who live in Moominvalley, a wonderful but also unusual place to live, as something strange always seems to happen that pushes them into grand adventures. I’ve included just a few of the characters below.
Moominpappa: the patriarch and protector of the Moomin family. Enjoys pondering philosophy, going on wild adventures, and always being the first on the scene of anything unusual happening in Moominvalley.
Moominmamma: the caring, sweet, and calm mother of the Moomin family. Not much fazes her, and she runs a household more smoothly than most humans probably would.
Moomintroll: the only child of Moominpappa and Moominmamma; a curious, sea-loving adventurer who is always kind to everyone. He is very brave, and not much bothers him, with the exception of being alone.
Snufkin: a philosophical vagabond who resembles a sort of humanoid creation. He is extremely easy going and carefree, and he travels all around Moominvalley in search of the good life. He often sings a song he wrote himself, “All Small Creatures Should Wear Bows on their Tails.”
Snorkmaiden: the friend/girlfriend of Moomintroll. Very girly and loves make up and clothing, but she is very energetic and fun to be around. She gives off the impression that she is a bit dense though.
Sniff: the saucy friend of Moomintroll. He is very small so he won’t cause much trouble, but he can be a coward even with his sassy words.
There are a whole host of Moomin books and characters that differ from book to book, and I believe Moominsummer Madness is the 4th book in the series. It wasn’t my favorite one, but it wasn’t my least favorite either (that would be the 3rd book, Moominpappa’s Memoirs-this one went on forever!).
But if you’re looking for something light, something that isn’t going to drag you down, or something that beachgoers will judge you while reading because you are not in 4th grade anymore, might I suggest the Moomins?