MOOMIN 4 AND A DRIFTING LIFE reviewed by the School Library Journal

School Library Journal Review - Moomin 4 and A Drifting Life

School Library Journal    |    Library School Journal Staff    |    September 1, 2009

Gr 10 Up–This is a masterfully drafted autobiographical work by the creator of Good-bye (2008) and Abandon the Old in Tokyo (2006, both Drawn & Quarterly). Referring to himself as Hiroshi, Tatsumi begins his story with the surrender of Japan after World War II, when he was 10 years of age, and details the following 15 years of his life. Deeply passionate about manga at a young age, he chronicles the time from his start as an enthusiast to his rise as an influential and celebrated author/illustrator of the format. Although this book centers primarily on Tatsumi’s writing career, the history of manga, influential writers and publications of the time, and the turbulent manga publishing industry, much more is revealed. Family life and dynamics influenced by his parents’ troubled marriage, his father’s financial difficulties, and his friendship and rivalry with his brother are explored, first sexual interests and experiences are considered, and relationships among fellow artists are skillfully portrayed. Historical political and cultural events are introduced throughout the story, giving readers a feel for Japan’s climate and social landscape during the period. Black-ink images in a combination of detailed/realistic panels mixed with cartoon-style artwork enhance the atmosphere and bring the characters to life. This is a captivating autobiography, and one that should have high appeal to those interested in the history of manga and Japanese culture, and followers of Tatsumi’s works.–Lara McAllister, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia

JANSSON, Tove Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip vol. 4. illus. by author. 110p. CIP. Drawn & Quarterly 2009. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-897299-78-4. LC 2008396968.

Gr 10 Up–Generations of children have enjoyed Jansson’s books about Moomin and his family and friends. Lesser known were Jansson’s series of the comic strips for adults–until Drawn & Quarterly began reissuing them in 2006. This fourth volume is, alas, the last in the series chronicling the adventures and misadventures of the hippolike Scandinavian troll, his girlfriend, and his parents. In the first of the five stories in this volume, Moominpapa accidentally builds a time machine and takes his family back to the exciting days of the Wild West. To his dismay, he finds a population of peaceful and law-abiding citizens, corrupt lawmen, and Indians who keep forgetting that they are supposed to act like bloodthirsty savages. Another story has the denizens of Moominvalley giving up their peaceful and happy life to join the rat race, while a third showcases the perils of fame and fortune, including a kitchen full of intimidating appliances. As in the previous volumes, Jansson pokes gentle fun at human foibles while driving home the message that true happiness lies in being yourself. Teens will be attracted by the simple but expressive black-and-white drawings on yellow pages, and perhaps take to heart the precepts: that which glitters may be just glitter, and some dreams are best left as dreams. Libraries that already own the previous three volumes will want to complete their set, while those that have somehow missed purchasing the series will want to do so now.–Sandy Schmitz, Berkeley Public Library, CA

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