Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The tuft on the end of Moomin’s tail falls out, prompting a lot of anguish for him as he tries to find a way to thicken his hair before Snorkmaiden sees it. When it grows back with Moominmamma’s help, it’s made of solid gold. “I don’t think it can be very good for you,” Snufkin warns him. “Cut it off and come fishing with me.” But that’s the last thing Moomin wants to do. As the fame of his golden tail spreads far beyond Moominvalley, fan letters arrive, autograph seekers besiege Moomin, newspapers report his every move, he acquires a manager to handle his image and publicity and his life is no longer his own. Yet, despite resenting a lot of the problems fame brings him, Moomin can’t bring himself to give it up. How will he ever be normal again?
Moomin and the Golden Tail is number eighteen of Tove Jansson’s 21 stories originally created in daily, black and white comic strips for the London Evening News between 1954 and 1959. Her strips are collected over five large hardcover volumes of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip and are also available complete in Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, a single, slipcased compendium volume. This newer series of small, landscape format, flexicover books takes the Moomin strips and repackages them in individual volumes with each story newly coloured by the editorial team at D&Q to give each small book extra kid-friendly appeal. Unfortunately the colouring is frequently at odds with Jansson’s art, introducing graphic shapes and background additions which disrupt her original layouts, and using eccentric colour palettes that don’t complement the art too well.
These small flexicover books appear under D&Q’s children’s imprint Enfant, but Tove Jansson created these strips to entertain newspaper-reading adults. While these stories appear visually to be a perfect fit for children, the sophisticated ideas, clipped dialogue and subtly existential situations are often quite abstract. Jansson is an expert with creating layered narratives; all her stories work on multiple levels and this story is easily understood by younger readers, but the ironic commentary will fly over their heads entirely. Some events will need explaining. Next in the series is Moomin Winter.