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rIGhT The Groke, the most tragic character in the Moomin saga, symbolises fear and loneliness. Sniff, the lovely Snork maiden and the tiny mischief-maker Little My, to name just a few. Jansson began work on The Moomins and the Great Flood in 1939. The war had left her other work at a standstill. "It felt completely pointless to try to create pictures," she wrote in the foreword when the book was reissued in 1991. "Perhaps it was understandable that I suddenly felt an urge to write down something that was to begin with `Once upon a time'." She finished it in 1945. In Finland the second and third books, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, were released in 1946 and 1948 and earned the Moomins widespread popularity for the first time. Finn Family Moomintroll appeared in English in 1950, but things really took off in 1954, when Jansson began a seven-year stint drawing Moomin comic strips for London's Evening News, which boasted a circulation of eight million. WaxInG PhILosoPhIcaL and PoeTIc Moomins are often said to embody a certain philosophy of life; the particulars of this philosophy depend on who your favourite character is. The Moomin worldview is marked by practical common sense, even in the face of catastrophes and adventures. In general, the characters respect individuality and welcome guests into their lives. They also respect the natural world's beauty and power. When Snufkin finds out that a comet is going to hit the earth, he observes drily, "It would be awful if the world exploded. It's so beautiful." Occasionally he becomes downright poetic: "Look at the mountains that are deep purple-red in the distance!" GIvInG soMeThInG Back With respect for the environment in mind, Moomin Characters Ltd, the company that licenses Moomin rights (see text box on page 33), is teaming up with WWF and an array of partners including Finnair to raise awareness and funds to counter ocean pollution. During 2010, money from special campaign products will flow to WWF. Moomin Characters chairman of the board Sophia Jansson hopes the total donation will be about 500,000 euros. In the Nordic countries, kids can participate in a related drawing contest online at Finnair hosts its own celebratoNot just kids' stuff Any fan of the Moomin series can tell you that these children's stories have a lot to offer grown-ups, too. However, many readers don't know that Tove Jansson also wrote critically acclaimed novels and short stories aimed directly at the over-18 crowd. During the past few years, Sort Of Books has been publishing these works, some of which have never appeared in English before, in beautiful high-quality paperback editions. The Summer Book, A Winter Book, Fair Play and The True Deceiver contain the same observant, graceful style and perceptive wisdom that endear readers to the Moomin books. Moomins value practical common sense, even in the face of catastrophes and adventures. LeFT Pipe-smoking adventurer snufkin is prone to delivering philosophical lines. FEBRUARY 2010 BLUe WInGs 31

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