Ok, so today I'm totally contradicting what I said on my very first 'Heroes' blog about the no order/list thing, it seems I just can't stop myself! For me there are three author/illustrators who's work has proven to be a constant source of inspiration and reward. Joining Raymond Briggs and Maurice Sendak in my 'top three' is the wonderful Tove Jansson.
Why Tove Jansson? well, once again my fondness for this author/illustrator's work has it's roots in my childhood, though my introduction to her work wasn't through reading books in the library, it came via the magical medium of television, specifically the beautiful, peculiar and charming stop-motion animated version of Jansson's most famous work 'The Moomins'.
This programme initially aired in the early 1980's. I wasn't very young at this point but young enough to be mystified, enchanted and a bit freaked out by those odd tales about a family of...well who knows what they are? living in a remote valley by the sea. My initial bewilderment gradually gave way to a love of all things Moomin, I moved onto the books themselves, they were beautifully written and illustrated with delicate line drawings of lighthouses, mountains and cosy family scenes. I was intrigued by tales of the Groke, of SnorkMaiden and Fillyjonks, these were stories that fired the imagination and conjured up images of misty forests and icy landscapes.
I've read these books many times and on each reading I'm struck by Tove Jansson's quiet and sensitive storytelling, they're full of wisdom and knowledge. The themes are big and occasionally dark and it often seems the gloom could be too much for young minds, but for me that's the beauty of Tove Jansson's writing, she quietly explains that life isn't always full of sunshine and happiness but with the help of friends and family the scary and sad things can be dealt with and that even Grokes get lonely!
The publisher Sort of Books recently published a lovely edition of Tove Jansson's first Moomins book The Moomins and the Great Flood , it's a beautiful book and in my opinion contains the finest examples of Jansson's illustrations.
Here are the opening titles of the Moomins animation, the music still haunts me!