Tove Jansson wrote the first Moomin adventure in 1945. Titled The Little Trolls and the Great Flood, it was a prototype for the Moominvalley books and has remained untranslated offline ever since. To celebrate the 60th anniversary, a Finish publisher has finally released an English language edition.

These are not fully-rounded Moomin characters, both figuratively and literally. The drawings are more angular and lack cuteness. It’s like watching early episodes of the Simpsons where Homer and Bart are tinged with green and jaggedly drawn. They don’t feel quite ‘right’, in retrospect.

The story concerns an adventurous search for Moominpapa, carelessly ferried away by a group of wanderlusting Hattifatteners. Mother and son set out to find him through a great forest full of watching eyes and unseen hostility and are hampered by a roaring flood that sends the forest population into the trees. There’s a taste of the fantastic among the supporting cast and the Moomins are joined for the journey by a creature looking suspiciously like Sniff. He tempers the harshness of the forest atmosphere by acting the role of selfish and frightened child. As Moomintroll builds confidence, so Sniff (if it is he) hides and cowers.

The most lovingly represented of the characters is Tulippa, drawn naked with obvious care. It’s tempting to question her in context outside the story but then Tulippa suddenly finds love with a red-haired boy and that’s the last we see of her (and the collapse of my theory). The scene pre-empts the happy reuniting of the Moomin family by a few pages.

The book is for sale here, at the Marylebone store. The shop also stocks Moomin houses, boats and the Arabia collection of crockery. Outside of Finland, it’s the best collection of Moominabilia I’ve come across (and have nine mugs in the kitchen to prove it).

Online Text of the story (without illustrations)