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julianmeynell

Julian Meynell's Books

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Who Will Comfort Toffle?: A Tale of Moomin Valley

Who Will Comfort Toffle?: A Tale of Moomin Valley - Tove Jansson This is one of the best picture books ever written. The story is told in rhyme and because it is translated the poetry can be awkward at times and the translator is not quite up to the task.

The story is about Toffle who goes looking for someone to be comforted by and ends up finding a Mymble to be comforted by after many asventures.

The book has a large amount if text fir a picture book. Its illustrations are complex and can occupy a child while the text is being read.

Tove Jannson was a genius and is superior to any other children's writer including Milne, Dahl, Carroll, White, Potter or anyone you can think of. She mostly worked in novels, but she also worked with both picture books and cartoons. Who Will Comfort Toffle is the best of her picture books.

There is in the picture book a subtle world view and philosophy. She sees the human condition as being one in which the point of a loving relationship is to find mutual support. Its an admirable take on love told with a subtle quiet emotional intensity. I think it can be faulted in that it is an ideal that is not really realizable that she is expounding. Jannson normally has a sense of the limits of what one can reasonably expect from humans and that is a part of her writing. It is not there in the ending. I generally think that children's literature should not present Utopian unrealizable ideals even though most people think that this is what children's literature should do. That view dates only to the Victorians and is naive about what children's literature is for.

Despite my criticism above, the book is very appropriate for young children. Jannson's works always operate on multiple levels. I read this book to my son starting when he was three and he turned out pretty well.

Every child should be given this book.