by Tove Jansson
Moominsummer Madness is the fifth book in the Mumintrollen series of chapter books for children. It follows The Exploits of Moominpappa and will be followed by Moominland Midwinter.
It is a sleepy summer in Moominvalley, and the Moomins are going about their sleepy summer pastimes; the nearby volcano is rumbling, and ash falls from the sky from time to time, but that pales in light of other concerns, such as Snufkin being late this year, and Little My sneaking off to get into unknown trouble. Suddenly, disaster strikes! A tremendous flood rises, first chasing the Moomins up to the top floor of their house, and then forcing evacuation. Spoilers will follow from here on out, although I'll not spoil the ending.
The Moomins eventually find themselves stranded in an large mysterious, and haunted building; the readers will recognize it as a theater, but the Moomins do not. Happily, they are not alone, as Whomper and Misabel have floated off along with them, and will be more present in this story than usual. However, the theater ghost turns out to be malevolent, and when the theater runs around the ghost sets it back adrift without waiting for members of the landing party -- Little My, Moomintroll, and the Snork Maiden -- to return.
Little My comes across Snufkin, who has been waylaid by an important project that accidentally results in him adopting 24 little Woody children. Little My thinks this is great, and joins their troop.
Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden stumble across a Fillyjonk who is sad, lonely, and willing to be convinced to have some minor adventures. They are quickly arrested (unjustly), and thus miss when Snufkin and the 24 little Woodies find the Fillyjonk's house; while Moomintroll and company plot their escape, Snufkin's orphanage is taking up residence in the house, eating all the food (but taring the roof in payment).
Eventually, everything suddenly works out.
This is an often moody and melancholy story, with the somewhat depressive Whomper and Misabel, and unhappy ghost, and everyone having troubles at every turn. It is also a chaotic story, with three main plot lines all populated by silly and unpredictable characters. It is one of my favorite of the Moomin chapter books, with the plot lines crossing and intersecting in pleasing ways, and a larger cast than many of the books. Overall, a good addition to the Moonin collection, and well worth reading once you've got some basic exposure to the Moominworld.