Moominpappa at Sea (Swedish: Pappan och havet Literally: "The Pappa and the Sea") is the tenth in the series of Tove Jansson's Moomin books and the eight novel, published in 1965. The story revolves around Moominpappa as he moves the family away from Moominvalley to a barren island where they live inside a lighthouse tower.

Moominpappa at Sea marks the definitive point where Tove Jansson stopped writing for children and more for adults. The book is dedicated to her father Viktor Jansson and serves as portrayal of his complicated and destructive nature, but also as a heartfelt farewell.

A very similar story, Moomin and the Sea, ran in the newspaper comic strip in 1957. The story shows how the family moves to a lighthouse, with similar plot points, although the comic strip features other elements not present in the book, like Moominpappa's desire to write a book, naval mines, lighthouse jurisdiction, a subplot about a ghost and the characters Snork Maiden and Too-ticky.

The original title is likely a play on the 1952 short novel The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

Plot Summary

Moominpappa is dissatisfied with his life in Moomin Valley, so he organises the family to set off on a journey to find a lighthouse in the sea. Once arriving there, they find it a desolate and lonely place, inhabited only by a very unfriendly fisherman.

Moominpappa wants to become lighthouse keeper, but gives up when he can't figure out how to make the lights shine. He resorts to other projects like building a pier, fishing and research a small lake, only to fail again and again.

Meanwhile, Moominmamma grows more and more melancholy as her dream of planting a garden never works out and her longing for home grows stronger. Eventually she starts painting the walls of the lighthouse with flowers until she's drawn all of Moominvalley. Moominmamma finds she can walk inside the painting to be at peace.

Moomintroll explores the nearby woods and finds a meadow he eventually moves into. He's disappointed to find it already inhabited by ants, and asks Little My for help with getting them to move elsewhere. Little My solves the problem by exterminating the ants with petroleum, much to Moomintroll's dismay.

At night, Moomintroll looks for the seafillies whom he admires greatly. The fillies are selfies and mean to Moomintroll, but he doesn't care. As he tries to attract them by waving his lamp he instead finds he's attracted the Groke. Every night, Moomintroll tries to call for the seafillies, but only ends up being accompanied by the Groke. However, slowly he starts growing a fondness for her, and when the lamp ultimately runs out of petroleum the Groke is no longer cold.

As the story draws to a close, the once disjointed family slowly grow close again. Together they confront the sea and safe the lonely fisherman. When they find out his birthday is coming, they invite him to a party at the lighthouse, which he reluctantly attends, only to slowly realize he is the original lighthouse keeper and retaking his position.


Moominpappa at Sea has been adapted to television three times.

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