Esther Freud “The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson – review” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/dec/07/moomins-great-flood-tove-jansson-review
Jansson was born in Finland, to a Swedish-speaking family. Her father was a sculptor whose work still stands in Helsinki's public spaces, her mother an eminent graphic artist and illustrator – her resourceful nature an inspiration to Jansson in much of her work. Jansson herself trained as an artist, only turning to writing as an escape from the deadening horror of Finland's war with the Soviet Union. Painting then seemed pointless, and she felt the need to write the words: "Once upon a time". But there were no princes or princesses in this, her first story. Instead, she used as her main character a small, angry cartoon figure she'd invented to amuse her younger brother. She named him Moomintroll, and gave him an eccentric, restless father and a warm, resourceful mother with an ever-present handbag.
Reading this book in the light of the suffering of the Finnish people in 1939 as they were caught up in the turmoil of their Winter War casts a different glow over what is essentially a classic adventure story. There are displaced persons (Moominpapa), divided families (the Moomintrolls), marching groups of soulless strangers (the Hattifatteners), and rewards for kindness rendered (the Stork, whose glasses were returned to him by Moomintroll).
*1:See Alison Flood “Moomins' first adventure reaches UK” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/16/moomins-first-adventure-uk-publication