Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Antlion!!!

Did anyone else out there read and love the zaniest children's series of all (I know there's some competition there, so I won't say it's the undisputed champion)- Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books? If you never did, you should. My favorite, I think, is Finn Family Moomintroll. The character names hint at just how wack (and awesome!) the stories are: the Moomin family, Moomintroll's love interest Snork Maiden, Thingumy and Bob... ahh, the intense weirdness of children's literature (see full, hilarious character list here).

But the character that made a big impression on me, especially due to Jansson's illustration of it (which I can't find a free image of, but you can see here), was the Antlion. I hope you can forgive me for assuming that he was an entirely made up character, since the rest of it was so fanciful. But much to my surprise, I have just discovered that antlions are totally real (my spellcheck doesn't know that, either). They are real things that dig sand pits and wait for prey to fall into their open jaws. Creeeeepy! I found this information out doing a completely different search, when I stumbled upon a website devoted entirely to antlions- antlion science, antlion stories in legend and popular culture, etc. It's called the Antlion Pit. Apparently, antlions show up with some frequency in literature. Tom Sawyer, Steinbeck's The Pearl, and The Silence of the Lambs all have antlion references.

So, I know this is weird, I just had to share. There's a connection to books, right? I'm not just blogging about weird insects, right? But wow. It's like finding out that the Grinch is real, and he actually does occasionally steal Christmas. Watch out for sand pits!

--Anna, kids books


  1. Anna! Moomin is Finnish! When I was in Finland there was a whole Moomin store, similar to going to a Disney store here. And all the tourist shops had adorable Moomin toys. Also, where I was staying we only got a few TV channels, and most were in Finnish, including the one that constantly played the Moomin cartoon. That was the first time I ever saw it and it was totally bizarre. I'm glad you posted this!

  2. Anonymous4:42 PM

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE those books. So quirky, and yet you felt like they had a lot of depth as well. A friend and I took a cruise ship with a giant picture of Moomintroll on the side from Stockholm to Helsinki. Like Seija mentioned the Disney connection, I got the impression he's like their Mickey Mouse. But whenever I bring up the books here, I get blank stares - even from people in the book industry.

    Have you ever read The Summer Book by Tove Jansson? I discovered it on the sale table at Elliott Bay, and adore it! Thanks for this post.


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