It’s early days: you may not want a reminder of Christmas yet, but this week I am running posts on a few items that would make great presents. The three items in the blogposts will be as different as could be – and all will be guaranteed as great gifts....
First off, a special for Moominfans, and I know there’s a lot of you out there.
The Invisible Child and The Fir Tree by Tove Jansson
Two Moomin short stories have been collected into a special edition, to raise funds for Oxfam.
Oxfam is my favourite charity, one I have supported for many many years, and this book production is a project I have a hand in.
The charming, pocket-sized book costs £4.99 (from Oxfam shops, Waterstones or online) and AT LEAST FOUR POUNDS of that goes to the charity, for use in their work supporting women and girls worldwide (they have many other kinds of valuable projects as well). It’s an ideal stocking filler or Secret Santa present, and I personally guarantee you that money given to Oxfam is never wasted, and is always worth it. So – the perfect seasonal purchase, and there’s more below from Oxfam on why these particular stories fitted so well with their campaigning on women’s issues:
Oxfam announcement: The world's favourite fictional Finnish family, The Moomins, represented by Moomin Characters Ltd, and Oxfam have announced a new partnership to help women and girls around the world fight inequality and escape poverty for good.
The partnership centres around The Invisible Child, a short story by Moomin creator Tove Jansson, which will be available to buy from Waterstones, the Moomin Shop Covent Garden and Oxfam shops, with at least £4 from each sale being donated to Oxfam's women's projects worldwide.
Published as a standalone title for the first time by independent publisher Sort Of Books, The Invisible Child is about a little girl who turns invisible after being badly treated by the woman supposedly caring for her. She is given a place to stay at the Moominhouse and, when shown warmth, kindness and respect by the Moomin family, she gradually reappears and regains her place in the world - a right that every woman and girl should have. The story, which was originally published in the collection Tales from Moominvalley, will also be available to buy from Waterstones.com and the Oxfam Online Shop.
A range of other Moomin products using artwork from The Invisible Child will also be sold to raise money for Oxfam, including a tote bag, tea towel and handkerchief. Macmillan Children's Books will donate £1 from sales of its Pocket Moomin Colouring Book and Finnish brands Fiskars and Finlayson will contribute a proportion of sales of their Moomin products too.
The fundraising is to support Oxfam's work fighting extreme poverty and suffering around the world. Since the majority of people living in poverty are women, the rights of women and girls are at the heart of the charity's work. Long-held prejudices often mean that they are denied basic rights like education, a fair wage or decent working conditions. Women and girls are also often the worst affected when emergencies strike.
But Oxfam knows that the skills, determination and ingenuity of women will win through, and by supporting them poverty can be overcome.
Sophia Jansson, niece of Tove Jansson and creative director of Moomin Characters, said: "Tove was a strong and independent woman who lived life the way she wanted to - unlimited by ideas about how a woman should behave or what her role should be - which isn't too surprising considering where she grew up. Finland has always been a leader in women's rights, and was the first European country to give women the vote in 1906.
However, not everyone is this fortunate, and I'm sure that Tove would be very glad that her stories are going to help women all across the world escape poverty and find their voices."
Oxfam's Director of Women's Rights & Gender Justice, Nikki van der Gaag, said: "The values woven into Tove Jansson's wonderful stories - justice, compassion, kindness - perfectly echo what Oxfam represents and fights for every day. From empowering business ventures like beekeeping and fruit-growing, to rebuilding lives and homes after disaster strikes, we support amazing women all around the world. We believe that every woman and every girl deserves the right to be visible and have their voice heard, so we're very proud to partner with Moomin Characters to launch this inspiring Moomins' tale."
Gemma Cairney, broadcaster and author supporting the campaign, said: "When crisis happens it is statistically women who suffer the most. No woman or girl should have to suffer in silence - we can't let that happen in 2017! In Sierra Leone with Oxfam, I met strong, inspiring women living in poverty through the Ebola crisis, who fought stigma from all sides to help others. But breaking down barriers isn't easy. I'm supporting this fab campaign to encourage more people to stand up and shout out to make sure women and girls are very much seen and heard."
James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, which will sell The Invisible Child, said: "This is bookselling at its very best; putting before readers an inspiring story, in an exceptionally beautiful edition, all at a modest price for the benefit of Oxfam's important work. Chapeau! to Moomin Characters and everyone involved."
So there you go – a charming book, a perfect present and a good cause. Please consider this one when you make your Christmas list…
The illustrations are copyright Moomin Characters.