A History of Tove Jansson's Moomins

One of the delights of parenting is sharing favourite books, characters and TV series with your children, and enjoying their delight in new discoveries that you also enjoyed as a child.  I was really excited this weekend to be able to share the gorgeous Moomins with Lara, Sophia and Tatiana in the form of the new Moomins on the Riviera DVD, created to commemorate the life of Moomin creator, Tove Jansson, who would have celebrated her 100th year in 2014.


In case you don't know them, the Moomins are a family of hippo-like, fairy-tale creatures, like Finnish trolls, who live carefree and eccentric lives in Moominvalley.  They were created by Tove Jansson in the 1940s, and have made a long journey from books and comic strips to stage and screen over the past 70+ years, capturing the hearts of children and parents alike in the process.

The Moomintroll Character first appeared in the early 1940s in a series of anti-Hitler drawings for the Finnish, satirical magazine, Garm. The Moomin-like creature, called “Snork,” could be found in Jansson’s signature or as an active role in the illustrations, as you can see below.


In 1945 the first Moomin story, “The Moomins and the Great Flood” was published in Swedish by Söderström & Co, but nearly went unnoticed.  Luckily, Jansson’s second and third Moomin books, “Comet in Moominland” (1946) and “Finn Family Moomintroll” (1948) did not, and she went on to create an oeuvre of nine story books and five picture books.


In 1954, The Moomins arrived in Britain in the form of a satirical comic strip in London’s The Evening News, at the time, the world’s largest newspaper.  Tove's brother, Lars, was the artist from 1960 on, and the Moomins comic strip remained a daily part of the newspaper until 1974, with a total of 800 strips produced.


In the late 1950s, Jansson took The Moomins to the stage in Troll i kulisserna (Troll in the Wings), adding her own words and lyrics to the play and songs. The performance was a success, and productions in Norway and Sweden followed. Growing success saw the development of the first Moomin television series: a puppet animation aired in Germany.


The Moomins' television debut inspired the creation of an animated series in Japan, which aired between 1969 and 1970.  The series had 65 episodes and was aimed at an adult audience.  However, Jansson never approved the series due to dramatic differences from the original Moomin plot line.  Staying true to her books, in 1969, Tove Jansson and her brother, Lars, created their own Moomin television series in Sweden, called Mumintrollet (Moomintroll).  Continuing their evolution, the Moomins even performed an opera in Helsinki in 1974!


More recently, another Moomin series was created in Japan in 1990. It followed the original atroyline more closely and was dubbed, distributed and broadcasted in 124 countries.


Celebrating their Moomin heritage, the Finns have also opened a Moominvalley exhibit at the Tampere Art Museum, an exhibit featuring Jansson’s original illustrations, original Moominvalley media and 40 Moomin miniatures.  It even features a small Moomin house!


A theme park, Moominworld, opened in Naantali, Finland in 1993.  The perfect place for any Moomin fan, Moominworld brings Jansson’s illustrations to life with Moomin characters, activities and theatre performances.


Now the lovable Moomins have hit the big screen in the new feature film, Moomins on the Riviera.  In the film, The Moomins, Snorkmaiden and Little My sail away from Moominvalley in search of adventures of their own.  They set sail for the Riviera, where the unity and optimism of The Moomins is threatened, with only an exasperated Moominmamma trying to restore calm and get them back where they belong...



Based on the original comic strip created by Tove Jansson and her brother, paired with inspiration from 1950s French Riviera postcards with their yellow and orange hues.  The Moomins themselves are as close to Jansson’s creations as possible.  Voiced by Russell Tovey, Nathaniel Parker and Tracy Ann Oberman, the film was directed by Xavier Picard and co-directed and produced by Hanna Hemilä.

So what did we think?

Beautifully drawn, and with gentle colours, this animation is the antithesis of everything brash and bright that is fed to our children, and the girls appreciated the gentler tone and palette.  The storyline is slightly surreal, although not as surreal as the characters themselves, and contains some real proper laughs.  Perhaps predictably, Lara adored the subversive, crazy character of Little My, and has been talking about her a lot since watching the film.  We really liked the film as a whole, and there is plenty to pick up on in future viewings, although I am a bit concerned about tackling the themes of jealousy in love, and physical appearance that crop up...  It has inspired us to seek out some of the old illustrations and DVDs though, so I think the Moomins are certainly a hit in our house!


MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA is out on digital platforms now, and on DVD from Monday 28th September 2015.


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Comments

  1. I was a 90s kid and I absolutely Loved the Moomins! I always wanted to ride on a cloud like they did!

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  2. I've never heard of the Moomins but I was married, with a busy job in the 90's. My favourite show was Thunderbirds.

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  3. I did watch the Moomins and I have things I have collected from The Moomins.

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  4. i used to watch moomins everyday after school great show and great giveaway x

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  5. I really loved the Moomins. Poddington Peas was good too

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  6. I am a definite 90s kid! I remember an episode where one of them got lost under a hat? I think I need to YouTube that, I remember it being both awesome and a little trippy haha. My mum has often referred to me as Little My since I was little, I don't know what she's trying to insinuate haha.

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  7. I remember the moomins animated series as a child but my fondest memory was having one of the Moomins books being read to me at school

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  8. It used to be one of my favourite children's programs

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  9. I loved watching the moonins when I was younger and have some of the books to pass on to my daughters too

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  10. I;m a 70's kid and I definitely remember them, but probably from Jackanory

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  11. not a 90s kid but warched Moomins before then and later with my kids

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  12. More of a 70's / 80's kid but I have seen the Moomins

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  13. I was a cross-over kid, born in 1981, so I was just about a kid in the 90's :-) I loved watching Byker Grove.

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  14. I was a child in the 90's but did not watch the moomins

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  15. I saw this film at the cinema with my two young boys and thought it was fab...I loved the moomins in the 1990s, when my brothers and sisters were little

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  16. I remember watching the moomins when I was younger.

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  17. Hell yeah I watched the Moomins! Got a few books for my kids but need to show them the animation!

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  18. Yes I used to watch the cartoon. Now I have the books and frequently buy Moomin stuff from the great shop in Covent Garden.

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  19. Yes I grew up in the 90s and loved the Moomins.

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  20. Love the Moomins but my heart will always belong to Dungeons and Dragons!

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  21. fabulous giveaway, love the Moomins

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  22. I did watch he Moomins used to love Fun House and the cartoon City of Gold

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  23. Yes I loved The Moomins and my son now wants to watch it too!

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  24. yes i loved the moomins as i a kid even as an adult i still do so much so i have called my cat Moomin :)

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  25. I have always loved Moomins, since my childhood, and enjoyed re-reading the series a few years ago, as it is so philosophical and beautiful. I haven't seen the animation though, would love to.

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  26. I'm a 70's child. I loved Pipkins!

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  27. I'm an 80s child and I loved transformers and TMNT etc...

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  28. I was born in the 80's but grew up in the 90's so still watched the moomins and loved it x x

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  29. I was born in the 80s but loved the moomins

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  30. I don't remember them. I was an 80's child.

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  31. More of an 80s kid but I did like the Moomins and I liked Dogtanian aswell.

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  32. I remember Moomins very well, but my favourite show was Dungeons and Dragons

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  33. I was a 70's child and adored Bagpuss, but I loved the Moomins in the 90's too (I'm currently sat in a pair of Moomins pyjamas!!)

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  34. I'm a bit older than a 90s kid but enjoyed watching the Moomins with the children.

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  35. I'm a lot older than 90s kids, I use to watch Yogi and Boo Boo

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  36. I loved The Powerpuff Girls!

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  37. I watched Will o' the Wisp but I love the Moomins and remember very well those gorgeous book covers and those wonderfully strange tales.

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  38. I'm a 70's kid and one of my favourites was Bagpuss. My husband had the Moomin books as a child and they are still a firm favourite in our house.

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  39. We adored seeing the Moomins at the polka theatre and little my is a favourite here too!

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  40. Adored the Moomins at the Polka theatre and also love Noggin the Nog

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  41. I am older, but I watched them with my children.

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  42. I'm 30 now and my friends and I were obsessed with them at 11! MMMMOOOOOMMMIINS!

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  43. Yes, I watched the Moomins

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  44. I did watch the moomins I especially liked Little Mi

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  45. Yes I'm a 90's kid hehe and loved moomins was even my nickname at school due to my little nose

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  46. Bring back Button Moon (or was this the 80's?! - am I showing my age?!) (@PeanutHog)

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  47. i didnt watch moomins, i hadnt heard about them until recently. i loved watching scooby doo :)

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  48. yes I watch the moomins but my fav was fraggle rock

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  49. I loved Button Moon & Funhouse!

    Kelly Ellen Hirst

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  50. I am a 90's kid - I was a big fan of the moomins

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  51. I was a 90s child :) and I loved the Moomins! I watched them religiously

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  52. i never watched it. i was into sesame street!

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  53. i do remember the moomins but my favorite program was art attack

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  54. I did watch and enjoy the moomins. I preferred transformers and dogtanian though

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  55. dungeons & dragons was mine :)

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  56. mine was dungeons & dragons awesome :)

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  57. Oh dear!. My first memories are of watching Muffin the Mule and Bill & Ben but my son born in the 80s loved watching Moomins.

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  58. not a 90s kid but watched it with the kids xx

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  59. I was a 60's kid. the choice of young kids programmes was pretty limited: Andy Pandy, the Flowerpot Men, and my favourite, Tales of the Riverbank with Hammy Hamster (the original B&W version with voices by Johnny Morris). My daughter was a 90's kid, and she loved Barney the purple dinosaur.

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  60. I loved the Moomins and I also loved Mysterious Cities of Gold!

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  61. I was 50s/60s child and l believe it was Andy Pandy.
    George Williamson

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