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"Behold, my child, the utterly useless rewards of the fantastic." Useless, perhaps, but rewarding nonetheless. Here is someone who understands the necessity of imagination.

Tove Jansson's Moomins and other creatures are types: each of them embodies recognisable human characteristics which the animal's appearance only accentuates. Anyone who reads a Moomin book will spot friends and family presented in the guise of Little My, Snufkin, Hodgson or one of the others.

It's harder to pin down oneself in a single Jansson creature, perhaps because of the way fiction can focus on part to make a whole. I know how Moomintroll feels about Snufkin, yes; but also recognise the Hemulen's sister writing lines in a waterproof notebook, Mrs Fillyjonk terrorised by the demands of a house, Sorry-oo howling after the wolves and even the silent Hattifatteners seeking out storms and empty islands.

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