Who Will Comfort Toffle?
Written & Illustrated by Tove Jansson
English script by Sophie Hannah
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Tove Jansson’s second Moomin picture book gets a new English translation courtesy of Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly and English scripter/poet/writer Sophie Hannah. Like the Moomin comic strips and Jansson’s first children’s book, The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, Who Will Comfort Toffle? brims with whimsy and wonder.
Lonely Toffle journeys through Moomin Valley, encountering the denizens of Jansson’s imaginative world. Every person she encounters, in addition to partaking in imaginative flights of fancy, has someone to share the moment with, yet Toffle remains alone, in search of a companion. It’s a direct and clear message for kids, that we all feel lonely and that we’re the only person without somebody, but of course, it all works out when you meet the right person. And you may have to persevere to meet that person, but doing so is worth the effort.
Without being able to read the original Swedish text, I can’t compare this version to Tove Jansson’s vision. However, I did find the English script, while clever and appropriately silly, struggled with an inconsistent cadence. The rhyming lines are often rhythmically out of sync, which isn’t really a huge deal, but does cause a few pauses and stutters when reading.
Jansson’s illustrations are simple and bright, full of patches of basic coloring surrounding Toffle’s simple grayness. The character designs, anthropomorphized beings and strange lumpy creature-persons, remain striking yet simple. Again, the simple lines and colors should keep the target audience engaged effectively.
Who Will Comfort Toffle? should entertain young readers eager for upbeat whimsy and colorful, odd creatures, and its core message about persevering through loneliness is important for readers of all ages. Famed in their homeland, it’s good to see Tove Jansson and her Moomins continuing to appear here on English-speaking shores. This book will absolutely go into the for-my-kids box.