Comet in Moominland

by Tove Jansson

Other authorsElizabeth Portch (Translator)
Paper Book, 1967





Penguin Books 1967.


When Moomintroll learns that a comet will be passing by, he and his friend Sniff travel to the Observatory on the Lonely Mountains to consult the Professors. Along the way, they have many adventures, but the greatest adventure of all awaits them when they learn that the comet is headed straight for their beloved Moominvalley.

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
Rating: 5* of five

The Book Report: Dear little Moomintroll, who lives in a blue Moominhouse (for all Moominhouses are blue, you know) with Moominmamma and Moominpappa and his adopted sibling Sniff the little beast, has a perfect day of pearl-diving, cave-doscovering, and comet-spotting behind him. It is the Muskrat, a philosopher and a nay-sayer par excellence, who lets Moomintroll in on the comet's likely collision with the earth, and gets little Moomintroll worried enough about the consequences to send him, with Sniff in complaining attendance, to the Lonely Mountains to find the professors in the Observatory so they can tell him if, and when, and preferably where, the comet will hit the earth.

Many adventures come the way of the travelers, who are fortified with all the goodies that Moominmamma can think of to pack. These include Sniff's favorite lemonade, and Moomintroll's woolly trousers in case it's cold in the Lonely Mountains (it is, but the trousers were thrown to the crocodiles to keep them from eating Moomintroll and Sniff, which worked, but left Moomintroll cold on the way to the Observatory, though not on the way back because the comet was making the earth so hot by then).

And Moomintroll meets his true love, the Snork Maiden, on the way. Oh, how sweet the Snork Maiden is! All green and fluffy, with a gold ring on her paw and a flower behind her ear!

Everyone, like Snufkin the wanderer and the Snork and his sister the Snork Maiden, and even the stamp-obsessed Hemulen, come back to Moominvalley to be safe in Moomintroll's (well, Sniff's if you want to be fair) cave with Moominmamma and Moominpappa when the comet hits the earth on October the seventh, at 8:42pm (and maybe four seconds), like the professors at the Observatory said it would.

But it doesn't, though it gets close, and it scares the whole family silly, and then they see the sea (which evaporated, cause it was so hot, and all Moominfolk love the sea so they missed it, and the octopus that tried to eat Moomintroll when they were walking across the sea-floor is back under water, thank goodness) so they know the world is all right.

The end.

My Review: Magical. Marvelous. Delightful.

And the best oath in the whole Universe, the one I'll swear by for the rest of my life, is on page 10: "May the ground swallow me up, may old hags rattle my dry bones, and may I never more eat ice cream if I don't guard this secret with my life." Seriously! I ask you! Could *you* break such an oath?!

If not for the LibraryThing 75ers's Fantasy February, I wouldn't have revisited this beautiful little parable about friendship, freedom, creativity, and love. I am so so glad I did. Tove Jansson, a designer and illustrator and cartoonist like her mother, created the sort of delight-filled universe I wish I could give to every child. Moominfolk are known and revered all over the world, and Jansson's native Finland has a Moominworld theme park! I wanna go! Operas have been written. Cartoon series have been made. Translations of the books into Ukrainian, into Urdu, into Japanese! Dolls! Artworks! It's Moominmadness!

And you can get in on the fun by buying a $7 paperback book. So tell me, what are you waiting for?
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LibraryThing member Gary-Bonn
Well, it's confession time. I read this at the age of eight and can only say that it pretty much defined the rest of my life.
I became Snufkin, lol. Many a holiday was spent alone, walking through mountains. I tried to emulate his gentle and kind nature. I also tried to play the mouth organ - sadly I never got the hang of it, so I learned to whistle instead...

As utterly captivating as the rest of the series. If I was left with one book - this would be it.

Jansson is spectacularly observant of inner feelings and how they influence human interaction - and she can get this across to children. That's truly amazing. Moominvalley in November is probably her most profound.
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LibraryThing member Michael.Rimmer
A fanatical, whimsical, comical, almost tragical adventure in which Moomintroll is involved in a child's-eye-view of the impending apocalypse. Along the way, he meets strange characters, some of whom will become beloved friends of both the Moomins and the reader (Snufkin, I'm talking about you!).

It's no spoiler - there's another seven books in the series - to say that everything turns out OK. The enjoyment is in the journey and the heroic and cowardly antics of the Moomins and friends and, for children and adults alike, a comfort in returning to the warm bosom of Moominmamma at the end.

Jansson's illustrations are superb, of course, being an integral part of the story and its tone, which can be rather grotesque at times - the stiltwalkers put me in mind of Dali's Temptation of St Anthony. A bold image for a children's book, and there are others just as eschatological. Despite which, the overall time is not at all bleak, rather the opposite.
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LibraryThing member melydia
I love Moomins. Let me say that up front. They're sweet and adorable and funny. In this tale, a comet is speeding toward the earth, so Moomintroll and Sniff have to journey to the observatory in the mountains to find out what can be done about it. Along the way they make many friends, and though there is a chronological order to these stories, you don't need to read them in order. If something's not explained, it's probably not important (or purposely mysterious, like the Hattifatteners). The illustrations are darling and I enjoyed every moment of the journey. I love how all the Moomins are so accepting of everyone, no matter how bizarre or unfriendly. One day I hope to read the original comics, but for now I'm plenty happy with the books.… (more)
LibraryThing member otterley
A charming story, beautifully translated, whereby Moomintroll goes on an expedition to find out about comets, meeting various odd travellers (and the delightful Snork maiden) en route, has many adventures and is happily restored to the loving bosom of mamma and pappa moomin.
LibraryThing member ad1968
I love the Moomintrolls. These gentle, exsistential stories are such fun.
LibraryThing member jmattas
An entertaining, warm-hearted, a bit "boyish" adventure in a truly fantastic world. Though perhaps not as imaginative and thoughtful as some later Moomin books. The storytelling is very fluent and the descriptive language and the illustrations enhance the fantastic experience. The characters have only one trait to them, which in my opinion does not flatten the story, but makes it easier and more fun to follow.

I found the approach of the comet as a great, concrete way to constantly intensify the atmosphere. I mean, it's there, in the sky, and grows bigger and bigger. In the end, the best part of the book, there's a great contrast between the calm of the Moomins and the heat of the comet.
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LibraryThing member phoebesmum
The Moomin books are either frivolous childish fluff or profound philosophical treatises; personally, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be both.
LibraryThing member greeniezona
This book was on my "Currently Reading" shelf FOREVER, as I started reading it to the family on a car trip and the kids weren't really into it, so I stopped reading it and started pouting and put it aside to finish WHEN THEY WOULD APPRECIATE IT but finally just gave up and read it myself.


This one isn't my favorite Moomin book (you know, it doesn't have any Little My in it), but it offers some real moments of magic. It's also lovely to finally get the origin of the Snork Maiden. The story is a little uneven and a little odd and involves too much smoking, but there's plenty of Moomintroll charm to go around.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
A re-read, after just a few years. Even after reading some friends' comments and being encouraged to try again, I just don't feel it. I understand what people are saying, as for example the professor's cluelessness, and the silliness mixed with the adventure, but I'm not moved. Maybe it's because I don't feel empathy with any of the characters.… (more)
LibraryThing member lisapeet
Like comfort food in book form—every bit as non-cloyingly sweet as I remember from my childhood. It's that combination of gentleness, bluster, melancholy, boisterousness, and unconditional love—Jansson said she set out to write about a functional and happy family—that just gets me where I live. The protagonists are both children and little animals, and the adults are all either mildly quirky or unflappable and kind. And the black-and-white illustrations are marvelous—beautiful and spooky and full of little details to get lost in. Nothing not to love here, and I already ordered the next one in the series.… (more)
LibraryThing member fred_mouse
I still love this book, 30ish years after first reading. Kids liked it too.

(real review will get written one day, but I don't have the energy for it Right Now)
LibraryThing member isabelx
Halfway up the hill on their way grew a clump of blue-trees covered with big yellow pears, and of course they couldn't get past that without Sniff deciding that he was hungry.
“We'd better only take the windfalls,” said Moomintroll, “because mamma makes jam from these.” But they had to shake the tree a little so that there were some windfalls.
Sniff was very pleased with their haul. “You can carry the provisions,“ he said, “because you haven't got anything else to do, have you? I'm too busy to think about things like that when I'm the Path Pioneer“

The Moomins arrived in Moomin Valley after s great flood, and have been living there for a few weeks when Moomintroll and Sniff start noticing the same pattern appearing again and again, a pattern that looks like a star with a tail. When the Muskrat tells them about comets, they begin to worry that the pattern is an omen, and Moomintroll and Sniff decide to go on an expedition to visit the Professors in the Observatory on the Lonely Moutains, and find out if they know anything about a comet heading for earth.

This is a very cute story. The Moomins are a very hospitable family, inviting various waifs and strays to stay with them, and Moomintroll himself is a very appealing character, being a bit naughty, but also adventurous, caring and romantic.… (more)



Original language


Original publication date

1951 (English)
1946 (Swedish)

Physical description

19 cm


0140302867 / 9780140302868
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