Moomins

Brilliant Bookshops: The Academic Bookshop, Helsinki

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Along the Pohjoisesplanadi in Helsinki is the Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, the Academic Bookshop. Open, light and airy, it is a lovely space in which to browse for books.

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On one of my visits ( it was two minutes round the corner from the hotel and stayed open until 9pm- how could I stay away!), I was surprised - and delighted- to find that an author talk was taking place. Joe Abercrombie was one of the authors - I loved the 'Shattered Sea' books and my son is currently reading them- so I spent a very happy an unexpected half an hour listening to the discussion!

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Towards the back of the shop is the children's section. There was a wonderful display of Moomin books and related items translated into various languages!

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The shop contained a wide range of English titles and I enjoyed spotting things I know and then finding them in Finnish as well! I'm easily pleased! 

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The Academic Bookshop is a wonderful shop to spend plenty of very happy time in! If you are visiting Helsinki, make sure you add it to your list of places to visit!

You can find out more on their website.

Moominworld

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On the south-west coast of Finland is a small town called Naantali. It is a pretty place, with many little islands just off the coastline. On one of these islands-Kailo- is Moominworld!

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To get to the island, you have to walk across a little bridge and then follow the path through the trees until the gate to Muumimaailma. 

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Although it was a beautiful day, the park was not too crowded. There are no rides in this park- it is all about the characters and the world Tove Jansson created for them.

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Just past the entrance is the Promenade where there are fairground games and snack shops, wafting fabulous aromas of chocolate and doughnuts around the park. On the corner is the Moomin Post Office and Bookshop, selling a lovely selection of Moomin books. 

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Passing the Police Station (complete with jail!), you look down the hill and see the blue tower house- The Moominhouse. You can explore every room and make your way up to the very top.

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At last they came to a small valley that was more beautiful than any they had seen that day. And there, in the midst of the meadow, stood a house that almost looked like a tall stove, very elegant and painted blue. 

The Moomins and the Great Flood

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Next to the blue house is Moomintroll's house. 

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Then there's Hemulen's House, full of his butterfly collection.

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On the shoreline is the Moomin's  bathing hut with Edward the Booble floating nearby.

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Snufkin's Camp, Sniff's Summer Cottage, The giant Pumpkin,  the Fire Station, the Groke's House- all of these places are there to visit! The emphasis is on play, exploration and imagination. Nature trails and story corners encourage children to observe, listen and discuss as well as enjoying the stories of Tove Jansson.

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There are stage shows and musical sessions to enjoy as well- and all the characters from the books wander around the park, happily posing for photos and offering cuddles!

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Moominworld is a truly magical place, well worth a visit. Having enjoyed the Moomin stories as a child, it is a treat to re-read and re-discover them as an adult. You can find out more about Moominworld on their website.

Adventures in Illustration! Part 3

Leaving Kings Cross, I made my way to Covent Garden where one of my favourite (non-book!) shops: The Moomin Shop!

Having spent a very pleasant (if hot!) time buying more things I don't really need, I made my way to Charing Cross Road. On the way, I found a few more of the BFG's Dream Jars.

Once at Foyles, I went to level 5 to see the Christina Balit exhibition which is inspired by mythological worlds.

Using a mix of watercolour, gouache, pencil and gold ink, Christina Balit has illustrated over 20 children’s books by hand. From Atlantis to Egypt, the Zodiac to Pompeii, her work brings life and colour to myths and legends from around the world.

The exhibition focused on twelve of her books and the original artwork from these. Each picture was beautiful and captured the scene perfectly. 

I love her paintings and was delighted to have the opportunity to admire each picture in the exhibition. Once home, I had to get out and re-read some of the books she has illustrated!

Having visited a few bookshops and tracked down a few more Dream Jars, I made my way home, having enjoyed my adventures in illustration!