Moominvalley in November is my favorite in Tove Jansson's series of whimsically illustrated, perfectly weird books and comics set in the beautiful and imaginary Moominvalley. The books are originally from Finland and in that part of the world (and in Japan), the series is a huge deal — there are theme parks, collectible merchandise, TV and movie adaptations, and they're a part of most people's childhood. How they became such a big part of mine is a little bit of a mystery to me. I think my mom found one of the books at our local used bookstore and once I read one I was hooked.
Moominvalley In November is kind of unusual within the series because the stories usually focus on the Moomin family, but in this book they are at sea, and their house is populated by friends who've traveled to see them. There are six friends in total: the pipe-playing musical vagabond Snufkin, the extremely fussy Hemulen, the conservative Fillyjonk, senile old Grandpa Grumble, Snufkin's mom Mymble, and my favorite — the lonely, reclusive, shy, but secretly magical Toft, who wants desperately to be part of the Moomin family.
I reread this book at least five times as a child and teenager, but it has sat dusty on my shelf for a decade. It is beautiful — moody, evocative, lovingly detailed, and dotted with charming illustrations. I kind of can't believe that I liked this book as a kid, and it makes me give my kid-self and kids in general a bit more credit. It's really a slow-moving, thoughtful book and not at all a page-turner. It is mostly about coping with the complex sensitivities of other creatures, learning to live together, and loving the world around you. Everyone in the book is a bit prickly and broken and, together in someone else's house, they learn to spend time together, to make their own fun, and to feel a little like a family. Maybe this book prepared me for adult life more than I ever realized. —Summer Anne Burton