RELIVING your childhood years is invariably a mistake.

I recently came across a clip of Scooby Doo only to realise it was not the great dog based detective series I had once believed it to be, but an oddly voiced, formulaic jumble of barking and mask removal.

Pokemon and Teletubbies are in retrospect, equally colourful nonsense. One artefact of my formative years remains intact however. The Moomins.

For those who have not had the utmost pleasure, The Moomins are a family of white, roundish characters with large snouts and a hippopotamus vibe. They live a carefree existence, their sense of adventure and love of the outdoors fuelling them around Moominvalley.

What was and still is so captivating about The Moomin books and television show, I discovered at a new exhibition of author Tove Jansson’s work, is its philosophy.

Born in the Swedish speaking population of Finland to a sculptor and graphic artists, Jansson first found an audience with her cuttingly anti-fascist cartoons published in satirical magazine Garm. Eventually beleaguered by the warring forces that surrounded and then swept through Finland, and her inability to make painting her primary trade, she released The Moomins and the Great Flood in 1945.

It is a story that allows absurdity to deal with darkness head-on, Moominmamma and Moomintroll our protagonists as they look for Moominpappa and the Hattifatteners in the dark forest.

They use a glowing tulip to light their way and are saved from the clutches of a giant serpent when a beautiful young girl emerges from a flower. It is, with pebbles made of marzipan and an anglepoise lamp posing as the sun, a story born in fantasy, but grounded in goodness.

Beneath all of the colourful characters in the book as in Jansson’s life- who spent her time on an island with her female companion - it is the strength of family and the milk of human kindness that shines through. At one point Moominmamma muses “I wish somebody would write a story sometime about the people who warm up the heroes afterward.”

Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Tove Jansson puts this philosophy on display in an indulgent, nostalgic exhibition that runs until January 28.