A hankering for adventure sees the Moomin family take an ill-advised helicopter ride that strands them on a desert island. The rarely visited island holds a few secrets – one of which is that it’s the very island their ancestors came from. The ‘Protomoomins’, 1000-year-old Moomin mummies who come to life, cleverly look like Tove Jansson’s original drawings of Moomintroll and his mother, made before her very first novel The Moomins and the Great Flood. These ancient, more angular creatures are also more anarchic than their descendants and things soon spiral into confusion. Pirates, shipwrecks, treasure and the Mymble make this an eventful tale with an explosive finale.

Moomin’s Desert Island is the fourth of Tove Jansson’s 21 stories originally created in black and white comic strips published six days a week in the London Evening News between 1954 and 1959.  The entire run is collected in five large hardcover volumes of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip and Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, a single, slipcased compendium volume.

This newer series of small, landscape format, flexicover books takes Jansson’s original strips and repackages them in individual volumes. Because each story is self-contained, but not too long–generally around fifty to sixty strips–they lend themselves very well to being collected as little books. To make them more marketable, they have been newly coloured by the editorial team at D&Q to give each small book extra kid-friendly appeal. Unfortunately the colour palette is weirdly arbitrary and frequently detracts from Jansson’s original layouts by adding horizon lines and other shapes that interfere with her graphically sophisticated designs.

This series appears under D&Q’s children’s imprint Enfant. However, parents should note that Tove Jansson did not write these strips for children, but for newspaper-reading adults. The beguiling images will pull younger readers in easily, but the action and much of the dialogue are much more complex than any children’s book and will need explaining. Next in the series is Moomin’s Winter Follies.