A Little Moomin Lovin’

Cherry-picking from the Guardian’s Culture section this morning reminded us of one of our favourite library finds.

moomin and the little ghost

Tove Jansson was born in Helsingfors, Finland, in 1914. Her mother was a caricaturist who designed 165 of Finland’s stamps and her father was a sculptor. She studied painting in Finland, Sweden and France, and subsequently became a book illustrator. Her extraordinary illustrative style is seen as a design classic the world over. Originally written in Swedish, the Moomintroll books have been translated into 34 languages and adapted for television, film, radio and opera. Tove Jansson lived alone on a small island in the gulf of Finland, where most of her books were written. She died in 2001. (from Amazon.co.uk)

. . . just remembering the joy of reading words like ‘Moomintroll’ and ‘Moominmama’ with my children.  And this one was useful as well since Moomin and his pal Snorkmaiden had to conquer their fear of ghosts during their holiday at the lighthouse–we’ve had discussions of crocodiles and monsters under the bed, so Moomin became a handly little hero for us.

Besides that, the illustrations are so very funny and endearing, odd but in a good way, as the Scandinavian imagination seems to produce. It’s good that trolls can be endearing, surely.

We were sad when Moomin finally went back to the library’s shelves and are searching for his further adventures!

Sadly, Chae Strathie did not choose any Moomin books in her “Top Ten Utterly Zingbobulous Nonsense Words in Childrens’ Books” list, but she found plenty of other goodies.

‘Splosh’: A Theatre Taster for Under 5s

“Hip, hip hooray” for this lovely, bubbly show! The Sixth Sense Theatre Company is touring the country with its production of ‘Splosh!’, a short musical play for audiences aged 2-5 and their families. We were lucky to have four shows in Redbridge, on 13th and 15th March. (You can watch a taster of the original 2012 production here.) And thanks to the folks at the Redbridge Drama Centre, live theatre for this age group looks to be a reoccuring offering. Hip, hip hooray!

SploshA bathtub, aptly named ‘Mr. Bath’, is the centrepiece of this 30-minute production. It’s his birthday and his friends, Zak and Ellie, are trying their hardest to make it a happy one, despite the appearance of one Slippery Sid the bath sponge. In the live show, the audience sits on bath mats in a semi-circle around Mr. Bath. There’s a little live music–Zak strumming the mandolin whilst sitting in the bath–and loads of action. Children are encouraged to join in to help Zak and Ellie find Little Duck, elude Sid the Slippery Sponge, and celebrate Mr. Bath’s birhday.

It is high drama in the most commonplace of settings, the family bath. And this is the point of it really. As the Theatre Company intends, ‘Splosh!’ uses “multi-sensory design, music and puppetry to help children and families explore communicative play at bath time.” My girls have been talking about it for days now. My older daughter, three and a half, was completely engaged in the action, and though it was a little too much excitement for my shy two year old, she is asking for Mr. Bath now all the time and walking around the house with the little book she was given at the end of the show. This is a booklet of activities and fun things we can try at home to prolong the Sploshy fun.

This was our second ‘multi-sensory’ adventure this month–last week we saw Spitalfields Music’s excellent production, Musical Rumpus. Though these productions were quite different in nature–one traditional storytelling with classical music and the other a noisy, modern kiddie drama–both have brought a three-dimensional sense of art to my children (and to me), experiences which will go a long way towards their appreciation for drama, storytelling, human action, participation, and creativity. In short, really good stuff!