Fillyjonk, oh Fillyjonk

Tove Jansson has been important to me ever since I was a child. BBC published a lovely article about her today, which I would recommend to anyone who thinks she was just about pudgy Moomin trolls.

grokeI was terrified of the Groke. My grandmother made me a plush Groke to help me make friends with her. I didn't. It could have been the bright orange button eyes, of course.



I was also terrified of the hemulens in Who Will Comfort Toffle?, because they were huge and alien and although they were smiling, they were quite obviously smiling about things a mere human couldn't understand.

Now that I think about it, most of Jansson's stuff was terrifying and unsettling to the young child that I was. On the other hand, it was the kind of darkness a kid needs, but so few children's book authors talk about. And reading Jansson's book made the world a different place, more scary but more understandable at the same time.

I still read her books. It's another experience to read them as an adult, but just as rich, and still both scary and comforting at the same time. They tell me that the world is indeed a scary place, but it's also beautiful and marvelous, and all of these things must exist at the same time - often within the same person and place. Not that I read them as allegories, because reducing a fantastical world to mere allegory is idiotic and insulting to the creator. But they hold very important truths, both harsh and hopeful, frightening and comforting, told in the best way they could ever be told.

(Who do I identify with? Why, the fillyjonk, of course. The story "The Fillyjonk Who Believed In Disaster" is an extremely therapeutic read for anxious people, by the way.)