"I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream," articulates the docile, pot-bellied Moomin, but the best laid plans often go awry thanks to the misadventures induced by unwelcome house guests and the social-climbing aspirations of family members. Cozy humor delivered through the oddly fetching fantasy characters makes the reader feel like they are perusing some sort of family album that has fallen from another planet. In real life, author Tove Jansson grew up in Finland with bohemian parents, a pet monkey named Poppolino, and their little home was often visited upon by the notoriously artsy-fartsy and worse wanna-abe's, personalities which are subtly and cunningly conveyed in these comic strip vignettes that double as commentary. Children will love the rag-doll-like Mymble, the jewelry-wearing Snork-Maiden, a Thoreau-like troll named Snufkin, and Moomin's parents who comfortingly remain available to help Moomin when he tires of behaving completely like a grown-up. I orginally was intrigued as a child by Jansson's atmospheric children's novels like FINN FAMILY MOOMINTROLL, but I have to confess it was always the wildy imaginative black-and-white drawings that cast a spell on me. I was thrilled to come across this sampling of stories in fully illustrated form, oversized and with a handsome linen cover, and I'm sure reluctant readers, visual learners and the kind of kids who like to draw their own little "characters" to tell stories about will be equally thrilled. The mark of great fantasy is a fully invented world, and Jansson achieves this...moreover, it is a world we want to live in, and play in, if only for a little while. A delightful introduction to Jannson's work that leaves the reader wanting more. (8 and up) LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND: SO MANY SPLENDID SUNDAYS! by Windsor McCay (Sunday Press Books) How much would you pay to send a child back in time to the turn of the century so he or she could belly flop on the rug, reading Sunday comics in their original size, eyes spinning from their original saturated they-don't-make-'em-like-this-anymore coloration? Well, you'd pay pretty dearly in this case, but it's worth every penny and more to see such impeccably reproduced work of this surrealist who had the talent to illustrate our dreams. Think I'm kidding? You'll find out...and so will children who can be free to peruse this mind-expanding piece of graphic genius. Uh-oh, for young dreamers who would rather look at a books than play outside, this volume might just take the place of summer camp. (8 and up) On a personal note: Lots going on, lots and lots and lots, and I promise to catch you up very soon with plenty of pictures to boot. I hope to be back into my regular blogging routine ASAP! Thanks for your patience!