Moomintroll ‘the gaffa’ at Pop Up

At the beginning of July SelfMadeHero teamed up with our friends at Puffin, the Embassy of Finland and Nosy Crow to throw a ‘Moomin and friends’ party at a new festival called Pop Up.

Pop Up is a free, public festival that celebrates literature and stories. It took place for the first time in and around Coram’s Fields, London on the 9th and 10th July. Pop Up debuted with a packed programme of booky events arranged in tents, domes and marquees, each curated by a famous children’s authors (Michael Rosen, Philip Ardagh, Karin Littlewood, Michael DeSouza and Catherine Johnson to name a few). Each curator was asked to invite some friends, fellow writers, poets, artists and musicians to put on a day’s worth of fun.

Moomintroll was chosen as a curator and was given the job of curating the activities that would happen in and around a massive white dome on the Saturday of Pop Up. It has to be said that Puffin and SelfMadeHero did give Moomintroll a hand to curate “The Dome”, as frankly Moomins are rubbish at logistics and are frankly more used to lying in hay and eating jaffa cakes than tying up VGA cables and wielding gaffa tape. That said, it was Moomintroll’s artistic vision that pulled the whole thing together and we couldn’t have done it without him.

Puffin kicked off the day with a Moomintroll story session led by storyteller Sian and Moomintroll himself. The story was a brand new one – Moomin and the Birthday Button, which went down a storm with the 170 capacity audience in The Dome.

After the story, we broke out the first of our Moomin badges and stickers and took Moomintroll out to meet his fans who has congregated around the outside edge of the dome. We were delighted to spot Gillian Anderson and her kids joining in the fun – top celeb-spot.

With a pint-sized entourage, Moomintroll was keen to browse the Pop Up Guardian Bookshop in the middle of Coram’s Fields, so we all skipped over (well, most of us skipped) to see what what we could see. We weren’t disappointed – Sara and her team had handpicked an amazing (and vast) selection of kid’s books, many of which were recommended by kids from the Guardian’s children’s books website. You can see a fuller selection of books that featured in Pop Up on this page.

After that it was time to get back to The Dome and meet one of Moomintroll’s mates – Peter Rabbit. Peter did an impressive amount of hopping for such a hot day, while storyteller Sian told his tale to another capacity audience.

As Michael DeSouza and Rastamouse kicked off their set in the neighbouring tent, Milly from Puffin handed out Moomin colouring in sheets, pencils, badges and stickers to keep our crowd.

Before long it was time for our next guests – Pip and Posy – from the brilliant publishers, Nosy Crow. They’d brought along their creator, Axel Scheffler. Pip and Posy are friends, who just happen to be a mouse and a rabbit. They were dreamed up by Gruffalo illustrator, Axel Scheffler. While storyteller Sian recounted the story Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle (an upbeat fable about pantwetting) Axel happily sketched along on stage. Unbeknownst to the audience, backstage an increasingly excited rabbit and mouse were bouncing off the walls, just gagging to make their appearance. When the duo finally bounced into The Dome, there was almost a riot!

(Here’s some advice for free – when you have a mouse and rabbit-instigated child-riot on your hands, the best thing to do is to bring it to a bookshop and let them get excited there.)

So after another enjoyable trip to the Guardian tent and bit more skipping we were back in The Dome for our final guest of the day – Spot the Dog. I know! Spot the actual Dog! Well, kind of. I don’t know any dogs that can dance like Spot did. But hey, he’s a performer and he loves a crowd.

After all that excitement, there was only one way to round off the day properly –  another Moomin story from Sian, some more skipping, photo ops and then a massive Moomin tea party!

For the tea party we’d enlisted the help of Moomin HQ in Helsinki who despatched the necessary Moomin tablecloths, cups, plates and napkins to make it a very special treat. We’d also joined forces with the Embassy of Finland and a Swedish chef who concocted an industrial quantity of Moominpappa’s apple grog (non-alcoholic!) and hundred of delicious Moomin-shaped, white-iced, cinnamon biscuits for the Moomin fans young and old to chow down on. The biscuit recipe was takemn from our Moomins Cookbook as was the grog.

All that was left was to quarter the oranges and let the munching, sucking and slurping begin in earnest. Here’s the only photo I managed to get of the picnic in full swing:

Pop Up was an enormous success and we look forward to doing something next year, so a huge thanks to the Pop Up team!

If we do say so ourselves, the Moomin-themed fun was the highlight of the festival, although Philip Ardagh might have something to say about that…

Oh, and you can get your hands on the ever-popular Moomins Cookbook here.

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