Moomin, Mymble and Little My – Tove Jansson

POINTS: 5 out of 10.

Bechdel:  1 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

This is a very difficult book to hang on this framework we’ve built, because it doesn’t really fit into anything. Which, of course, me being me, I absolutely love. It technically passes the Bechdel, since Mymble and Little My are both female characters as are a number of the strange beings they encounter on their journey, and there is enough dialogue, such as it is, that I’m giving it that point.

It’s hard to talk about diversity in a book made entirely of totally fantastical creatures, so while it doesn’t get that point, it’s not exactly not diverse either, if you see what I mean. It’s entirely open to interpretation.

And this, at the end of the day, is the joy of this book. It is entirely interactive. Each rhyming page ends with the refrain, “And what do you think happened then?”, inviting the reader to come up with their own ideas. (Though in fairness, C mostly said, “I don’t know! Turn the page!” but even so.) There is even  a page where the reader is invited to participate in the making of the book: “The fillyjonk when she has calmed herself – try and draw her for yourself. Tove.” This is accompanied by a blank box in which you can draw your own fillyjonk. C was deprived of this because this is a library book – but it’s still nifty! Each page has little holes in it that hint at what’s on the next page. The whole thing is an exercise in interactivity, in drawing the reader into the story process. And by now we all know how much I love interactivity.

I love the nonsense aspect too. It’s great fun, meandering through this totally fantastical world filled with weird and wonderful creatures. It was wonderful to read out loud, and C and I both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Definitely recommended.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the Moomin world? What’s your favourite nonsense story for kids?



The Quangle Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points.
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point.

This is the first book in the 3+ section. We’ve sailed through the 0-3 section faster than I anticipated (mostly cos of the number of books I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet). And so, onwards!

It makes me kind of sad that this book doesn’t do better, but given there is one obviously female characters, and the rest are all animals, many of them nonsensical made up animals, it’s pretty much impossible for it to get most of the available points.

But in reality, this is a great story despite its low score. Lear was a master of nonsense verse, and the Quangle Wangle is one of his best bits of it. Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations are particularly charming in the version I have. C and I both loved reading it together. The language is simple but inventive. The rhyme is fun. It’s a neat little book to read.

Like most nonsense verse, there’s not much to it storywise – the Quangle Wangle has an enormous hat, a bunch of random animals both real and imaginary (I can’t be the only one with a deep love for the pobble who has no toes) come to live on and in the enormous hat, and music and frolicking ensues!

I can’t really give it points for ideology as a result, but nevertheless, there is much to be said for a bit of nonsense in life, and so I do recommend it.

What do you think of the Quangle Wangle? Do you have other favourite picture book versions of Lear’s poetry?