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The Annotated Wind in the Willows For Adults & Sensible Children (Or, Possibly, For Children & Sensible Adults)

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“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”—the Water Rat to the Mole An instant bestseller upon its initial publication in 1908, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the beloved stories of all time. How could Ratty and Mole have known when they took to the river over one hundred years ag “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”—the Water Rat to the Mole An instant bestseller upon its initial publication in 1908, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the beloved stories of all time. How could Ratty and Mole have known when they took to the river over one hundred years ago that they would begin a phenomenon that would produce one of the most oft-quoted lines in British literature, and inspire everyone from the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh to Pink Floyd? Drawing from more than a decade of research, Annie Gauger, one of the world’s leading experts on Kenneth Grahame and The Wind in the Willows, now presents a fascinating new annotated edition that reintroduces readers to Otter, curmudgeonly Badger, and rollicking, boastful Toad, while revealing the secrets behind this treasured classic. In The Annotated Wind in the Willows, readers will discover the sheer joy of the original text, restored to the original 1908 version, illustrated with hundreds of full-color images—including the beloved drawings by E. H. Shepard and Arthur Rackham. This edition also includes Shepard’s famous map of the Wild Wood and rarely seen images by illustrators Graham Robertson, Paul Bransom, Nancy Barnhart, and Wyndham Payne. In an illuminating preface, Gauger explains how Grahame came to write the novel, which began as a bedtime story and then became a series of letters he wrote to his son, Alastair. This edition reproduces the original letters in their entirety and includes nearly a thousand delightful annotations on everything from automobiles (Toad drove an Armstrong Hardcastle Special Eight) and early motorcar etiquette to modern manifestations (Disneyland’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride). She reveals how William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott, the peculiar Fifth Duke of Portland, built an extensive network of underground tunnels, thus inspiring the character of Badger, and she puts Grahame’s work in literary context, comparing him to Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, A. A. Milne, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally, new to this edition, long buried in the Kenneth Grahame papers, are the notes, letters, and writings by Alastair Grahame and his governess, including several pieces by Kenneth Grahame himself that have never been published before. With a stunning, lyrical tribute to Grahame by Brian Jacques, the internationally best-selling author of the Redwall series, The Annotated Wind in the Willows should prove a most beautiful and enduring tribute to Grahame’s masterpiece.


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“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”—the Water Rat to the Mole An instant bestseller upon its initial publication in 1908, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the beloved stories of all time. How could Ratty and Mole have known when they took to the river over one hundred years ag “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”—the Water Rat to the Mole An instant bestseller upon its initial publication in 1908, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the beloved stories of all time. How could Ratty and Mole have known when they took to the river over one hundred years ago that they would begin a phenomenon that would produce one of the most oft-quoted lines in British literature, and inspire everyone from the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh to Pink Floyd? Drawing from more than a decade of research, Annie Gauger, one of the world’s leading experts on Kenneth Grahame and The Wind in the Willows, now presents a fascinating new annotated edition that reintroduces readers to Otter, curmudgeonly Badger, and rollicking, boastful Toad, while revealing the secrets behind this treasured classic. In The Annotated Wind in the Willows, readers will discover the sheer joy of the original text, restored to the original 1908 version, illustrated with hundreds of full-color images—including the beloved drawings by E. H. Shepard and Arthur Rackham. This edition also includes Shepard’s famous map of the Wild Wood and rarely seen images by illustrators Graham Robertson, Paul Bransom, Nancy Barnhart, and Wyndham Payne. In an illuminating preface, Gauger explains how Grahame came to write the novel, which began as a bedtime story and then became a series of letters he wrote to his son, Alastair. This edition reproduces the original letters in their entirety and includes nearly a thousand delightful annotations on everything from automobiles (Toad drove an Armstrong Hardcastle Special Eight) and early motorcar etiquette to modern manifestations (Disneyland’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride). She reveals how William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott, the peculiar Fifth Duke of Portland, built an extensive network of underground tunnels, thus inspiring the character of Badger, and she puts Grahame’s work in literary context, comparing him to Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, A. A. Milne, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally, new to this edition, long buried in the Kenneth Grahame papers, are the notes, letters, and writings by Alastair Grahame and his governess, including several pieces by Kenneth Grahame himself that have never been published before. With a stunning, lyrical tribute to Grahame by Brian Jacques, the internationally best-selling author of the Redwall series, The Annotated Wind in the Willows should prove a most beautiful and enduring tribute to Grahame’s masterpiece.

30 review for The Annotated Wind in the Willows For Adults & Sensible Children (Or, Possibly, For Children & Sensible Adults)

  1. 3 out of 5

    J.Aleksandr Wootton

    Trying to review The Wind in the Willows is a strange undertaking. In the introduction to my copy, A. A. Milne wrote: "One can argue over the merits of most books... one does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and if she does not like it, he asks her to return his letters. The old man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. ... When you sit down to [read] it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose you are sitting in Trying to review The Wind in the Willows is a strange undertaking. In the introduction to my copy, A. A. Milne wrote: "One can argue over the merits of most books... one does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and if she does not like it, he asks her to return his letters. The old man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. ... When you sit down to [read] it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose you are sitting in judgment on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgment on yourself. You may be worthy; I don't know. But it is you who are on trial." Milne's comments may seem overly grave, especially to those familiar with Grahame's lighthearted, whimsical, occasionally mystical, story of Mole and Water Rat's genteel life on the bank of the River and the adventures of the incorrigible and ridiculous (and highly entertaining) Mr. Toad, wanton son of worthier sires, but look here: if you love the story, you are clearly on the side of the Hobbits (indeed, if you want to know what life in the Shire is like, I can't think of a better book to refer you to); and if you dislike it, you may be an Orc at heart - seducable, like Toad, away from quiet contemplative enjoyment of this sometimes-slow book by the flash and boom of technological gimmickry. You might be the kind of person who prefers to run on an electric treadmill or rubber sports track than hike a nature trail. And if you are, I hope you have friends as stubbornly loyal as Mole, Water Rat, and Badger who will stick by you, in spite of yourself, until you come around.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    So fun and whimsical!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Buckley

    This book was written in 1908, when the world was being shaken by the newly self-confident masses. Women were propagandising for the vote; the Irish were demanding Home Rule; the Trade Unions were showing their strength. Socialism theatened. A spectre was haunting Europe, and particularly England. Wind in the Willows is an elegant parable about class struggle, about the dangers of decadant country-house-living in the face of powerful revolutionary forces. There are maybe four generations in the This book was written in 1908, when the world was being shaken by the newly self-confident masses. Women were propagandising for the vote; the Irish were demanding Home Rule; the Trade Unions were showing their strength. Socialism theatened. A spectre was haunting Europe, and particularly England. Wind in the Willows is an elegant parable about class struggle, about the dangers of decadant country-house-living in the face of powerful revolutionary forces. There are maybe four generations in the story. There is the young man Ratty, a gentle sort of chap who spends his time messing about in boats. He is joined by the younger, less experienced Mole. Mole may even be petty-bourgeois, but he proves himself to be stout-hearted for all that. Mr Toad, however, has come into his inheritance, and lives in his country house. Toad is an irresponsible figure, taking up foolish hobbies of which, in the story, the most fateful is the motor car. The older man is Badger, and it is he that casts cold water on this irresponsibility. But where is all this irresponsiblity going to lead? Outside this cosy comfortable setting, lie the dangerous forces in the Wild Wood. Mr Toad, besotted by his motor car, is arrested and sent to gaol. His defences down, his house is quickly occupied by the weasles and stoats who live in the Wild Wood. To the rescue comes Mr Badger, who is wise enough to see that if Toad is to regain his valuable property, he must forsake idleness and frivolity and stand up to the people of the Wild Wood. So the band of gentlemanly heroes take up arms and re-establish the shaken social order. "We shall creep out quietly into the butler's pantry -", cried the Toad, "- with our pistols and swords and sticks - ", shouted the Rat, "- and rush in upon them -", said the Badger, "- and whack 'em and whack 'em and whack 'em - ", cried the Toad in ecstasy. This is, then, a cautionary tale, a warning to the propertied classes to take up, if necessary, arms against the lower classes and to stop living lives of decadent indolence.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    An Edwardian children's book that ends with the reimposition by force of the traditional squirearchical social order on the upstart lower orders as represented by Weasels, Stoats and Ferrets. It is a through introduction to traditional British conservatism, of the Country Life rather than the Economist variety, for children with a side order of mild paganism. As such is an unwitting counterpoint to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. As with How to Read Donald Duck, once you look at it and shrug An Edwardian children's book that ends with the reimposition by force of the traditional squirearchical social order on the upstart lower orders as represented by Weasels, Stoats and Ferrets. It is a through introduction to traditional British conservatism, of the Country Life rather than the Economist variety, for children with a side order of mild paganism. As such is an unwitting counterpoint to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. As with How to Read Donald Duck, once you look at it and shrug off the view that it is just a children's book then the values on show are not so nice. What is it that readers are asked to feel nostalgia for? This was published in 1908, before Lloyd George prepared his The People's Budget in 1909/10, before The Parliament Act of 1911 and at the same time as women were agitating for the vote. There are the book's Weasels, Stoats and Ferrets - so take up your cudgel to uphold Merrie Olde England and our ancestral rights to under occupied manor houses and the freedom to behave with some reckless abandon! Alternatively we have the nostalgia of The Leisure Class, our heroes are people who don't have to work, who are so different from ordinary people that they don't even have to be human any more and who can indulge themselves as they see fit - save for the inexplicable unreasonableness of the law. Ultimately it is what is, as we all are, in this particular case a homoerotic fantasy in which all the men and boys can go off and live an upper middle-class life as animals by the river banks without having to deal with the consequences of that decision, the women will still be prepared to do the washing and the ironing apparently, and indeed woe betide the creature that tries to interrupt this way of life. The only duty is to one another, infringement of privilege punishable by violence. For all its emphasis on nature and the river, it is a very inward looking book. It is a closed off world, the industrial, urban society with a market economy is literally populated by a different species. There are few things quite as curious and peculiar as the stories people would like children to delight in.

  5. 3 out of 5

    Manny

    PART TWO OF PETER JACKSON'S THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS (CONCLUSION) [Night. Toad Hall, interior. STEPHEN FRY as TOAD and ORLANDO BLOOM as BADGER are in the middle of a wild melée with numerous STOATS and WEASELS.] BADGER: It's no good, Toad! There's too many of them! [With a blow of his cudgel, he knocks a WEASEL into the open fire.] TOAD: We can hold them off, Badger old chap! [EVANGELINE LILLY as a HOT BADGER-BABE crashes through the window and lands next to them.] BADGER: [Choked with emotion] You ca PART TWO OF PETER JACKSON'S THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS (CONCLUSION) [Night. Toad Hall, interior. STEPHEN FRY as TOAD and ORLANDO BLOOM as BADGER are in the middle of a wild melée with numerous STOATS and WEASELS.] BADGER: It's no good, Toad! There's too many of them! [With a blow of his cudgel, he knocks a WEASEL into the open fire.] TOAD: We can hold them off, Badger old chap! [EVANGELINE LILLY as a HOT BADGER-BABE crashes through the window and lands next to them.] BADGER: [Choked with emotion] You came back. HOT BADGER-BABE: Badger. [For a moment, they just look at each other. A STOAT tries to take advantage of their inattention to sneak up on them from behind, but TOAD grabs a carving knife from the dining table and wittily disembowels him.] BADGER: Thanks, Toad. [TWO MORE STOATS have meanwhile advanced on TOAD. BADGER amusingly decapitates them with a single blow of his cudgel.] TOAD: Nice work, Badger! [Dissolve to the pantry, where MARTIN FREEMAN as MOLE is frantically mixing something in a large bowl, assisted by ELIJAH WOOD as RATTY.] MOLE: Okay, that's the sugar. Now we need some fertilizer. RATTY: Will this horse-shit do? MOLE: It'll have to. [He dumps it into the bowl, pours in the contents of a bottle, then accidentally drops everything on the floor.] RATTY: Oh dear-- [A deafening explosion. Clouds of smoke cover everything, then we see letters superimposed on them saying PART THREE COMING NEXT CHRISTMAS.] A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF KENNETH GRAHAME: What have we done?

  6. 3 out of 5

    Fabian

    A genuinely refreshing little romp through tunnels & pastures. Zen is something that's somehow-- & very surprisingly-- reached. This is the ultimate impression the reader is left with. Outstanding, engaging and more fun than Aesop's menagerie, it moralizes vaguely on fidelity, the value of friendships & associations... The final sentence even addresses finally the main target audience-- the 'lil tykes and treasured ones; and even sustains with the theory that looks may be deceiving... A genuinely refreshing little romp through tunnels & pastures. Zen is something that's somehow-- & very surprisingly-- reached. This is the ultimate impression the reader is left with. Outstanding, engaging and more fun than Aesop's menagerie, it moralizes vaguely on fidelity, the value of friendships & associations... The final sentence even addresses finally the main target audience-- the 'lil tykes and treasured ones; and even sustains with the theory that looks may be deceiving... the Badger is ultimately not the savage beast you may've erroneously predicted. Sure, it is rife with discrepancies: a world where humans speak animal and animals speak human. The aid of humans is, I will admit --KAhYYute! There is wisdom in this, far surpassing anything in Disney's* imaginarium. The animals begin to hear a single string, a musical undertone, & this drives their natures and certainly seals their fates. Which are you? Adventurous Toad? Impressionable Mole? Generous Badger? otter? fox? washer-woman? little girl (remember, womenfolk don't enter the tale until half-way the story!)?... or do you simply presume to know it all, omnipresent, and wise as the wind? *okay, so obviously the Disney version DOES exist [although, did the ride outright disappear from the Anaheim theme park?]. I'm not stupid... But really the book is a longer journey, more in the literary tradition of Thoreau, and not instantaneous and vapid and bumpy, like the "ride." [But, DID YOU KNOW?!?! You CAN read Kenneth Grahame's entire novel waiting in line for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. If it still exists.]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    Some of the best children’s classics have started with an adult inventing stories to tell to a child. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “Winnie the Pooh”, “Peter Pan” and even “Watership Down” all began this way, as did many others. The Wind in the Willows is another such. Like them, it is a novel which can be read on many levels, and arguably has a hidden subtext. And like some others, its writing was prompted by a family tragedy. Kenneth Grahame had already established himself as a talented w Some of the best children’s classics have started with an adult inventing stories to tell to a child. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “Winnie the Pooh”, “Peter Pan” and even “Watership Down” all began this way, as did many others. The Wind in the Willows is another such. Like them, it is a novel which can be read on many levels, and arguably has a hidden subtext. And like some others, its writing was prompted by a family tragedy. Kenneth Grahame had already established himself as a talented writer, and had considerable literary success in the 1890s. He regularly published stories in literary magazines. These stories about a family of parentless children, were collected in one volume called “The Golden Age” in 1895. He followed this up in 1898 with “Dream Days”, a sequel, which was even more successful, and established him as a writer with a special insight into childhood. “Dream Days” itself included another children’s story, “The Reluctant Dragon”. Throughout his career, he had published children’s books and a memoir of childhood. He was successful and well-known, well before The Wind In The Willows was even thought of. Kenneth Grahame had a child of his own, Alastair, to whom he felt very close. He used to tell his son fanciful stories about wild animals who lived by the nearby river, and in the “Wild Wood”. When Alastair was about four years old, Kenneth Grahame would tell “Mouse” (his nickname for Alastair) bedtime stories about a toad. And whenever the two were apart, his father would write more tales about Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger in letters to his young son Alastair. Kenneth Grahame’s own childhood at this age however, was far from rosy. He had been born in 1859, in Edinburgh. His father was aristocratic; a failed lawyer, who loved poetry—but who loved vintage claret even more. The drinking became worse when Kenneth Grahame’s mother, Bessie, died soon after she had given birth to his brother, Roland. Kenneth was just 5, when he and his three siblings went to live with their grandmother. There they lived in a spacious but dilapidated home with huge grounds, by the river Thames, and were introduced to the riverside and boating by their uncle, who was a curate. We can clearly see echoes of his childhood in The Wind in the Willows. His grandmother’s decrepit house, “The Mount” has transmogrified into the huge mansion, “Toad Hall”, and the book is redolent with riverside and boating scenes. Kenneth Grahame was forced to move to and fro between the two adults, when the chimney of the house collapsed one Christmas, and shortly afterwards their father tried to overcome his drinking problem and took the children back to live with him in Argyll, Scotland. This brief sojourn only lasted a year before they all returned to their grandmother, where Kenneth lived until he went to an Independent school in Oxford. Whilst there he had the freedom to explore the old city as well as the upper reaches of the River Thames, and the nearby countryside. All this comes into The Wind in the Willows. The young Kenneth did well at school, and dreamed of going to university. He was actually offered a place at the prestigious Oxford University, and was set for high academic honours, but it was not to be. The family finances had dwindled so much that his father wanted him go into a profession straight from school. Kenneth Grahame was therefore forced straight into work at the Bank of England, and duly worked there for thirty years, gradually rising through the ranks to become its Secretary. In 1908, the year The Wind in the Willows was published, he took early retirement. As a young man in his 20s, Kenneth Grahame was a contemporary and friend of Oscar Wilde. Although married, and having a home in Berkshire, during the week he shared a London home with the painter and theatre set designer, Walford Graham Robertson. Both were very involved with the gay community, whose leading light at the time was Oscar Wilde. Another connection with the gay community was through Constance Smedley, a family friend who helped with the publication of The Wind in the Willows. A year later she was to marry the artist Maxwell Armfield, who himself was gay. It seems very possible that Kenneth Grahame was gay, despite having a wife and child. This was a time when homosexual acts were still illegal. The novel can be read as having a gay subtext, and passages such as the description of the ancient Greek god of the wild, Pan, are quite sensuous, with descriptions of his “rippling muscles”. One academic, Professor Hunt, the emeritus professor in English and children’s literature at Cardiff University, suggests that the works were manifestations of a life which Kenneth Grahame longed for. Whether this is conscious or not, it is noticeably “a story of maleness and male companionship”, with hardly a female in sight. The only exceptions are the washerwoman, the barge woman and the jailer’s daughter. All of these are secondary characters, and perhaps even more significantly, they are human, not animal. It is the animals in this story who are the well-nuanced, fully developed characters; the humans are merely stock types, who fill some of the minor roles. Yes, Badger is the wise teacher, mentor or parent figure, and one who is looked to for leadership, but he has his own quirky faults. His speech is described as “common”; he excitedly want to get his “grub” (food). And amusingly, both Rat and Mole end up very confused as Badger insists, “I want to learn ’em, not teach ’em!” when they are discussing teaching (view spoiler)[the stoats and weasels (hide spoiler)] a lesson (chastening them). Despite his success, and eligibility as husband material, Kenneth Grahame remained awkward in the company of the opposite sex. Only when he was 40 did he marry Elspeth Thomson, a woman who was devoted to him. Kenneth Grahame however, in a strange echo of James M. Barrie, remained distant, and incapable of demonstrating love. Elspeth grew increasingly miserable, taking to her bed for much of the day. Their only child, Alastair, or “Mouse” was born a little prematurely, in 1900. He was blind in his right eye, and the other had a severe squint. Mouse was much loved by both parents, but it was probably the case that Kenneth Grahame was trying to relive his own childhood through his son, especially his thwarted academic aspirations, and he had absurdly high academic expectations of Alastair. “Mouse” had morbid fancies, and when he was three and a half, in an act chillingly prophetic of his own death, amused himself playing a game where he lay in front of speeding cars to bring them screeching to a halt. Another odd instance occurred when he was given his presents on his fourth birthday. Instead of enjoying playing with them, he started to repack them in complete silence. This strange little boy was bullied at Rugby School, and again when transferring to Eton. He left the school, and was privately tutored in Surrey. Mouse was of a nervous disposition, and aware that he was not coming up to his father’s unrealistic expectations for him. His eyesight was worsening; he was fragile, and thoroughly miserable when he started as an undergraduate at Christ Church College, in 1918. He made no friends and joined no social clubs. He was to fail his Scripture, Greek and Latin exams three times within his first year; if he failed them again, he would be sent down (have to leave university). It had all got too much for him. At his last dinner in Hall, he downed a glass of port, surprising the undergraduate sitting next to him. Alastair then set off across the meadows—the setting for all the stories his father had told him, which had entranced him so—and which were to become The Wind in the Willows. Across the meadows was the railway track. With supreme irony, just as Peter Llewelyn Davis, the original for J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” was to do many years later, Mouse threw himself under a train. He was just 19 years old. When his decapitated body was found the next day, his pockets were crammed with religious books for his dreaded Scripture exam. He was buried in 1920, on his 20th birthday. His grave is hidden in a quiet corner of Oxford, in Holywell Cemetery, in the shadow of the medieval St. Cross Church. Located beside the River Thames, this is the gentle setting for Kenneth Grahame’s masterpiece. His father scattered lilies of the valley over the coffin. And 12 years later, his father too, a shattered genius who had now written The Wind In The Willows, was to be buried beside the doomed little boy who had inspired him. Perhaps after all, he had gained some catharsis through writing down the stories he had told his beloved little boy. At the time of Alastair’s death, Kenneth Grahame was no longer the Secretary of the Bank of England. He left his post abruptly in 1908, following a reported dispute with a governor, Walter Cunliffe. Some academics view Walter Cunliffe as the template for Toad, in his bullyish and forceful nature, and it has been suggested that Walter Cunliffe knew of Grahame’s sexuality and bullied him about it, which led to his early retirement. Kenneth Grahame and his wife (and son, Mouse) then moved to an old farmhouse, where father and son spent their time, “simply messing about in boats”. As we have seen, he used the bedtime stories he had told Alastair at this time, as a basis for the manuscript of The Wind in the Willows, where his characters do much of the same. But he was never to write anything else. For all his fame and fortune, Kenneth Grahame remained a tortured soul until his death in 1932, a broken-hearted man of 73. Yet the legacy of this tragic life, is a delightfully whimsical tale which has entertained both children and adults for generations. We can recognise all the anthropomorphised animals so well from our own lives. It starts with Mole, an “Everyman” and hero of the story, a home-loving ordinary sort of chap. He is tempted to explore a little further than his own comfortable domesticity, when he meets Ratty, and is very impressed by his ideas. The water rat turns out to be a dashing free-spirited, imaginative and capable friend, and the two of them have many adventures. One involves meeting Badger, a venerable wise old soul, with his down to earth reasoning and help. He is a father figure or teacher to the others. Then of course there is Toad, who is wildly taken up by any new craze, and tempted by anything new. Toad is convinced that he can outwit everybody, and his ridiculous antics provide most of the humour in this book. He represents the spirit of abandonment and adventure that many of us might dream about, but are either too shy, or too practical and self-controlled to do. Toad is impossibly vain and conceited, rather dim-witted, but when not devising new plot and tricks, he is very loyal. He has inherited a great house from his father, who knew full well what his impressionable and impulsive son was like, and asked Badger to look out for him, after he died. Toad is therefore immensely rich, but has a good heart essentially and is very generous to his friends, who spend much of their time getting him out off the scrapes he gets himself into. Children will love Mr. Toad, and secretly admire his devil-may-care attitude, and defiance of conventional rules and etiquette. His antics (view spoiler)[land him in jail, and lose him his home to vandals, in the form of weasels, stoats and ferrets, (hide spoiler)] yet even this does not cool Toad’s delightfully wicked ways. The purpose of children’s stories during this “golden era” of children’s literature, was largely didactic. Today its overt themes of appreciation for domesticity and manners may seem quaint and moralistic, yet in reality, most parents would want their children to follow these. Throughout the novel, Rat and Badger are praised for their hospitality, or and as in the case of Toad, criticised for their lack of it. Kenneth Grahame also shows children how to act towards others in certain situations, sometimes by speaking directly to the reader to comment on the importance of etiquette, from the smallest examples of table manners, or much larger concerns of honesty. Through both its plot and its writing style, The Wind in the Willows clearly shows the manners deemed proper in the Edwardian era. Unlike the much more savage story of “Peter Pan”, Kenneth Grahame’s characters have to face the consequences of their actions. Both Mole and Toad make mistakes, and suffer for them. (view spoiler)[When Mole ignores the warning he has had, and ventures into the woods, he soon finds himself in a terrifying, dangerous situation. Only the aid of his friend and mentor, Rat, saves him. Toad is warned several times about his extravagant spending and reckless driving, and is eventually thrown in jail for ignoring those warnings. Ultimately he is forced by Badger to confront his behavioural problems. (hide spoiler)] The characters in this novel are realistically flawed, as we all are, but children are shown that the way to learn and grow is to face those consequences. The exploits and escapades of Mr. Toad were such an appealing part of the book, that 2 decades later, when it was in its 31st printing, the author A.A. Milne adapted those chapters for the stage. The result was A.A. Milne’s 1929 play, “Toad of Toad Hall”. Almost a century later, it was yet again adapted for the stage, this time as a musical, by Julian Fellowes. This is a book which has never been out of print, has many adaptations, and never lost its appeal. One reason for this is that it is not just a collection of moral tales, but also an exciting adventure. Kenneth Grahame’s characters love adventures. In common with Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen, those from this class do not work. Instead they go on visits, take boats out on the river, go for long picnics, and enjoy the open air and Nature. Both they and we therefore as a consequence appreciate the beauty of Nature through exploration. Toad takes his road trips, home-loving Mole explores the Wild Wood on his own, and even Rat, thoroughly settled in his riverbank home, is momentarily tempted to setting out for an ocean life, at the end of the season. Each of the main characters is subject to the lure of adventure. Yet whilst each of them has an adventurous spirit, and enjoys their various escapades, they all enjoy the sense of having a place of their own to return to. Rat and Badger seem older, and are more set in their ways. They prefer to stay close to their homes, while Mole and Toad want to see as much of the world as they can. Nevertheless, Mole and Toad are also glad to have a home to go to, and which they view with great affection. The closing scenes of the novel reiterate the power of home, with (view spoiler)[their triumphant return to Toad Hall. (hide spoiler)] Interestingly, although they are not human, each character represents a certain stage of a human’s life. Badger is the oldest and hence commands the most respect. Rat acts as if he is slightly younger than Badger, (for example, he is more active around his home) but he still seems to be very sensible and quite mature. Mole behaves like a young man just trying to make his way in the world. Sometimes he is quite daring, but he also needs someone to guide him, as he tends to make foolish decisions. Toad’s behaviour, very obviously, is that of a spoiled, immature child. At this time, young men would often find their place in the world through the mentorship of an older, more established gentleman. We see an example of this with Rat and Mole. They instantly like each other, which enables Rat to advise Mole in many areas, and help him towards maturity, turning him into a considerate and kind gentleman. The reader sees how successful Rat has been by the end of the story. Mole plays an essential role in the final adventure at Toad Hall, and is highly praised by Badger. Toad, on the other hand, is a more difficult case, so only Badger can fill that role of a mentor. It will take a while, but we do see signs that Toad will improve as well. It is clear that Kenneth Grahame had a strong belief in the power an older man had, as a guide to a younger one. The novel is a series of episodes, in twelve chapters; each in a way complete in themselves, and each varying a lot in its style and pace. Some are adventure stories, full of camaraderie; some are humorous interludes, often with a little moral lesson. Some are thrilling, and full of excitement; some far more contemplative, and beautifully evocative of the English countryside. And two chapters in particular, chapter 5, “Dulce Domum” about an animal’s instinct for home, and chapter 7, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, about the great god Pan, are mystical, and very strange. Aspects of and references to the novel are to be found in unlikely places; “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, is also the name of Pink Floyd’s first album in 1967. Yet oddly, as a whole, it works, as countless enthusiastic readers have attested. Catchphrases such as “messing about in boats” and “poop, poop!” have found their way into English culture. There are many abridgements and rewritten forms of the novel, with appropriate language for very young children. When I approached my latest reread. I was certain that I would easily be able to select just one of the three versions that I have, to keep. Nevertheless, all three seem to have somehow found their way back on to my shelves. The Wind in the Willows is quintessentially English, and moreover very Edwardian. As we have seen, it is very concerned with correct form, and good manners; with what is required to be an upright jolly good fellow. We recognise the English traits of pomposity and bluster, a certain reserve, a sense of decency, a “stiff upper lip” in the face of danger, a dry and understated sense of humour, a sense of the ridiculous and absurd, and an enjoyment of adventure. The whole is imbued with a love of Nature and the English countryside, with lyrical passages which are quite beautiful. The whole is a paean to the English countryside, and Kenneth Grahame repeatedly shows his views of the superiority of country life over city life. The novel begins when Mole decides to leave his crowded home in order to live more in the country, and this idea continues to permeate through each episode. We see the author’s views in his portrayal of the destructiveness of the motor car. He continually criticizes the ugliness of industrial life; a city became the Wild Wood once the humans abandoned it. But his love for the pastoral life comes through most in his prose, which is rich in imagery about the beauty of nature. “the rich meadow-grass seemed that morning of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous, the meadow-sweet so odorous and pervading.” The relaxing settings, rustic picnics and peaceful rambles along the riverside, all contrast with the hectic, crowded city. As its author said, it is a book for those “who keep the spirit of youth alive in them; of life, sunshine, running water, woodlands dusty roads, winter firesides”. Altogether it is a very endearing book, and one which can be read over and over again. It is one of the great children’s classics, and a book which is full of a type of carefree happiness. How especially poignant and ironic, then, that the little boy who enabled its creation, found that such delight and happiness always eluded himself.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Lavishly described meandering adventures of the mild nature. The Wind in the Willows has an intrinsically English flavor. The characters are happy to live their ordinary lives with only a hint of interest in the wider world. Too strong of an adventurous spiritedness is considered uncouth. Such hearty frivolity as Toad's is frowned upon to the utmost! Unfortunately this goes for the author, too. Kenneth Grahame's plots are not terribly gripping due to their lack of depth. He seems pleased rather Lavishly described meandering adventures of the mild nature. The Wind in the Willows has an intrinsically English flavor. The characters are happy to live their ordinary lives with only a hint of interest in the wider world. Too strong of an adventurous spiritedness is considered uncouth. Such hearty frivolity as Toad's is frowned upon to the utmost! Unfortunately this goes for the author, too. Kenneth Grahame's plots are not terribly gripping due to their lack of depth. He seems pleased rather to spend the time describing a pleasant boating holiday down the river. If it wasn't for the scenes with the Wonderful Toad, the Fantastic Toad there would be very little excitement indeed. However, it is the bond of friendship and the love of homely pleasures that entices us to read on. I gave it 3 stars, because I liked The Wind in the Willows. No more and no less, and let's keep it as nice and cozily close to uncontroversial as that, shall we?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This is one of those books I want to love; I REALLY, really want to love this book. I've read so many essays by book lovers who have fond, childhood memories of being read this by their father, or who ushered in spring each year by taking this book to a grassy field and reading this in the first warm breezes of May. I want to find the tea and boating and wooded English countryside to be slow yet sonoriously comforting, like a Bach cello suite or a warm cup of cider on a cool April night. But I j This is one of those books I want to love; I REALLY, really want to love this book. I've read so many essays by book lovers who have fond, childhood memories of being read this by their father, or who ushered in spring each year by taking this book to a grassy field and reading this in the first warm breezes of May. I want to find the tea and boating and wooded English countryside to be slow yet sonoriously comforting, like a Bach cello suite or a warm cup of cider on a cool April night. But I just find it tediously boring. I've tried it three times, and after about twelve pages I sigh, put it down, and pick up something else. Perhaps my father needed to have read it to me when I was young.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I feel like I am the only person in the universe to not *get* this book. Perhaps I am not really human, but rather a troll or some other such hard-hearted creature. I suppose my main issue with this book is that I couldn't quite understand the world that Mr. Grahame created. Pithy words of wisdom on What It Means To Be A Child tell us that children don't have preconceptions and thus accept things more readily, being shaped only by the prejudices of adults. I assume most people would use that arg I feel like I am the only person in the universe to not *get* this book. Perhaps I am not really human, but rather a troll or some other such hard-hearted creature. I suppose my main issue with this book is that I couldn't quite understand the world that Mr. Grahame created. Pithy words of wisdom on What It Means To Be A Child tell us that children don't have preconceptions and thus accept things more readily, being shaped only by the prejudices of adults. I assume most people would use that argument against what I am about to say, to wit, that this book makes no sense. The Wind in the Willows wobbles along the line between fantasy and realistic fable. On one hand, there are talking animals. On the other hand, there are humans, railroads, motor cars, and jails. Sometimes the animals just live their lives along the riverbank or in the woods, doing very animalish things like migrating and storing up food for the winter and so forth, and sometimes they steal motorcars and insult the police and get tossed in the clink for 20 years. That last one is Toad, by the way, whom I found to be absolutely insufferable. Also, somehow Toad has hair, which I don't understand at all. IS HE A TOAD OR A MAN??? Are humans and animals the same size in this universe? Toad somehow manages to sneak around disguised as a (human) washerwoman, but is manhandled as if he were toad-sized. My head hurts from all the contradictions. This is where everyone who read and loved this rushes in and shouts: "But it's fantasy! Where is your imagination? What's wrong with you?" Ahem. Are you done now? I mean, really, though. I read a lot of fantasy, and I'm quite prepared to suspend my disbelief (or belief) in order to go along with a story. I love the absurd. But I also like my stories to have continuity, and to make some sort of sense in the universe they inhabit. I honestly have no other words to express my befuddlement after finishing this.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Ron

    They don't write books like The Wind in the Willows anymore. Today's books for children are sly rhymes, action and social engineering. Wind belongs to an older, more innocent time when even accomplished men such as Kenneth Grahame, A. A. Milne and J. R. R. Tolkien invented stories for their children. Stories which over the years became classics of literature. Wind isn't a fairy tale so much as it's life told for those who will inherit it. Told by those who love the inheritors. Even if you've read They don't write books like The Wind in the Willows anymore. Today's books for children are sly rhymes, action and social engineering. Wind belongs to an older, more innocent time when even accomplished men such as Kenneth Grahame, A. A. Milne and J. R. R. Tolkien invented stories for their children. Stories which over the years became classics of literature. Wind isn't a fairy tale so much as it's life told for those who will inherit it. Told by those who love the inheritors. Even if you've read it before—especially if you've seen Disney's Bowlderized revision—read it again. Pause along the way to consider the world Grahmane portrays. This is England; this is childhood; this is life as we remember it, or wish it was.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    And with just 6 hours to spare - the 2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge has been completed The prompt: A book you bought on a trip. A whimsical classic tale featuring Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad. We have sheltered Mole, venturing out to see the river with Rat. There's the stodgy old Badger who turns out to be much more warmhearted than anticipated. The fanciful Toad learns several valuable life lessons - one of which requires the garb of a grandmother during a prison escape! Charming, fun and a bit c And with just 6 hours to spare - the 2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge has been completed The prompt: A book you bought on a trip. A whimsical classic tale featuring Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad. We have sheltered Mole, venturing out to see the river with Rat. There's the stodgy old Badger who turns out to be much more warmhearted than anticipated. The fanciful Toad learns several valuable life lessons - one of which requires the garb of a grandmother during a prison escape! Charming, fun and a bit concerning. Look, reading this as an adult, I do have a few questions: -- Do all critters have the same name? If two moles meet, do they refer to each other as Mole? Or is it just our cast of characters that has the misfortune of being named after their species? -- How can they eat meat? It seems like all animals are intelligent beings in this book so how can they bear to eat ham and sausages? Perhaps the tasty animals don't count... Blog | Instagram

  13. 3 out of 5

    Cait • A Page with a View

    This is one of the cutest, most relaxing books I've ever read. I loved the cartoon as a kid. Nothing particularly exciting happens but it's just peaceful :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    If you have children and you have not read this gem with them, do it now. Go buy a lovely illustrated edition and make a memory that I think will last beyond childhood. Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger are characters worth knowing and visiting in childhood again and again. When I closed the last page of this book, I was sad to see these characters go. I enjoyed the story, which had a classic quality from page one. There are numerous lessons to be learned here, the value of nature and how to live a ba If you have children and you have not read this gem with them, do it now. Go buy a lovely illustrated edition and make a memory that I think will last beyond childhood. Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger are characters worth knowing and visiting in childhood again and again. When I closed the last page of this book, I was sad to see these characters go. I enjoyed the story, which had a classic quality from page one. There are numerous lessons to be learned here, the value of nature and how to live a balanced life, and the value of society. However, I think this is primarily a tale about the true quality of friendship, loving your friends, helping them, telling them in a non-hurtful way when they are over-the-top, and just sharing with them all the true pleasures in life: a fire, good food, a float down a river and a secure night's rest. I thought about my best friend and how she has seen me through all the travails of life and shared so many brilliant moments and how we have turned fright into laughter and a lack of funds into a celebration just by being together. It made me very nostalgic and I wanted to run over to her house, the way we did when we were young and lived close by, and have a sleep over and talk into the morning hours and get up and share a breakfast and plan an outing. I wanted to link arms and walk into a forest, unafraid and replete with smiles. If I am ever feeling sad and lost in the world, I think I will grab this book and read it again. I hope I can find an illustrated hard copy somewhere, preferably with illustrations by Moore, whose work has bowled me over online. Oddly enough, I thought I had read this before, but found that I had not, and I'm very glad I decided to join the group reading and get my very pleasurable introduction to Mr. Grahame's fabulous menagerie.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Harris

    Having first read this so many years ago, I found myself revisiting it with joy and some incredulity that it's still seen as a children's book. It's sublime - the poetry of the prose; the descriptions of the natural world; the sly PG Wodehouse humour, and most of all the jewel-like clarity of that very little world: the Riverbank; the Wild Wood; the World Beyond a kind of blur on the distant horizon. The characters are marvellous: combining some wonderful comic dialogue (which I can't help heari Having first read this so many years ago, I found myself revisiting it with joy and some incredulity that it's still seen as a children's book. It's sublime - the poetry of the prose; the descriptions of the natural world; the sly PG Wodehouse humour, and most of all the jewel-like clarity of that very little world: the Riverbank; the Wild Wood; the World Beyond a kind of blur on the distant horizon. The characters are marvellous: combining some wonderful comic dialogue (which I can't help hearing in Alan Bennett's voice) with some genuinely terrific insights into: addiction, alcoholism and male mid-life crises (Toad); depression (Rat); and anxiety (Mole). Most of all, what's striking to me is the essential *kindness* of it all: there's drama, but of a special sort: there's conflict, but a conflict that is resolved through quiet discussion, good sense and understanding. And of course, there's friendship; the kind of real, satisfying friendship that we all hope for, but that few of us ever find. In a way it's what THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING might have been, if Sam and Frodo had spent their lives messing about on the river with Bilbo and Gandalf, instead of having to fight the minions of darkness. Reading it is good for the soul: perhaps even more so as an adult than it was when I was child. It reminds us that, even in the darkest of times, there are simple pleasures to be had; that however dark our future may seem, friendship and love can carry us through.

  16. 3 out of 5

    Terry

    Ok, second attempt at a review after the damn interwebs ate my last one. Luckily I’m composing this one offline first. To me Kenneth Grahame’s _The Wind in the Willows_ is a particularly fine novel. It’s a children’s story and normally that would get my back up. I’m generally not a big fan of children’s lit or YA, and to add to this I didn’t even read this book as a child and thus have the requisite rose-coloured glasses to lend credence to my love for the story. Somehow, however, this tale of th Ok, second attempt at a review after the damn interwebs ate my last one. Luckily I’m composing this one offline first. To me Kenneth Grahame’s _The Wind in the Willows_ is a particularly fine novel. It’s a children’s story and normally that would get my back up. I’m generally not a big fan of children’s lit or YA, and to add to this I didn’t even read this book as a child and thus have the requisite rose-coloured glasses to lend credence to my love for the story. Somehow, however, this tale of the adventures of four animal friends in an idealized and idyllic Edwardian English countryside resonated deeply with me. I think part of this has to do with the deft hand Grahame shows in the creation of his characters: shy amiable Mole, courageous and resolute Ratty (that’s Water Rat by the bye), gruff but stalwart Badger and, last but certainly not least, frivolous and vain Toad, all partake of elements of archetype and yet are never fully defined by it, they manage to emerge as characters in their own right. The setting too seems to straddle the line between generic and specific. The animal friends are constantly travelling against a background whose very names are emblematic: the River, the Wildwood, the Town and yet when we come to their homes we could not wish to find more congenial or personal places of the heart. Our tale (or perhaps I should say tales) begins as the shy Mole first pokes his nose out from his underground home to be presented with a newly discovered wider world he approaches with awe and wonder. I wouldn’t quite say that Mole is the main character of the stories that follow (though he is always a significant part of them), but I’ve always had a soft spot for him and enjoy seeing Grahame’s idealized English meadows, woods and countryside through his amiable eyes. Toad would probably be the more likely candidate, certainly for a good portion of the stories which concentrate on his adventures: a life-loving jester of a character with more money than brains always looking out for the next fad that is of course the fulfillment of his true heart’s desire…yet again. Indeed, keeping tabs on their friend and trying to hammer some good animal sense into his soft head is one of the major tasks the other characters must undertake in many of these tales. Grahame’s pacing is excellent, at times meandering with a leisurely pace from a boating foray on the River to spring-cleaning a much-loved home, and at others moving at breakneck speed to escape from prison or reclaim an ancestral home from dangerous enemies. Thus we follow our friends as they learn about their world and each other and I cannot say that there are many more enjoyable companions to be had for such a venture. I’ve seen arguments online that these stories are somewhat parochial and insular: whenever the world outside of the hedgerows intrudes it is usually either a dangerous temptation or a destructive force. I can’t really argue with this, but does all literature need to celebrate the novel and the strange? Isn’t there a place for the well-loved hearth and a joyous homecoming? _The Wind in the Willows_ is nothing if not a celebration of the comfortable and the familiar, a paen for a world and a type of beauty fading away. There may be good reasons for why it had to die out, but I would argue that there is still value in remembering it. When I try to put my finger on what it is about this book that so captures my imagination and elevates it from being merely a tale about talking animals within the context of a long-dead worldview I think that Christopher Milne, son of the author of _Winnie the Pooh_, may have said it best when he talked of “those chapters that explore human emotions – the emotions of fear, nostalgia, awe, wanderlust.” It is these parts of the book that speak directly to my heart and examine the wider aspects of the human spirit.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leo .

    As a child I adored these tales. The TV show was great with real live animals from the riverbank and the calming voice of the narrator. Imagine living by a riverbank and having breakfast with the animals like Snow White. To watch the otters play. To listen to the water as it babbles over the stones and pebbles. To sing with the birds and marvel at the kingfishers with their iridescent feathers and absolute beauty. To wonder at the bees and butterflies as they collect nectar from colourful flower As a child I adored these tales. The TV show was great with real live animals from the riverbank and the calming voice of the narrator. Imagine living by a riverbank and having breakfast with the animals like Snow White. To watch the otters play. To listen to the water as it babbles over the stones and pebbles. To sing with the birds and marvel at the kingfishers with their iridescent feathers and absolute beauty. To wonder at the bees and butterflies as they collect nectar from colourful flowers. The purity of nature, the damsel flies and dragon flies. The water boatmen skimming across the surface of the water and water voles gnawing on water grass. A carp perhaps breaching the surface with a gaping maw trying to catch an insect. To see the badger and the fox. The deer and stoat. The owl and woodpecker. So much beauty from the riverbank. What a wonderful garden we live in.👍🐯👍🐯

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    I found Wind in the Willows to be one of those rare books that contains true joy. Several times since I have moved in with the Kenyons, I have gotten in a disagreement with another opinionated member of the household over the value of "dark" literature versus "light" literature. "It is so easy to write about dark things," she might say. "Why don't we focus on happiness?" I think when most people read a "happy" story, they find it shallow, unrealistic, and boorish since, as any random perusal of I found Wind in the Willows to be one of those rare books that contains true joy. Several times since I have moved in with the Kenyons, I have gotten in a disagreement with another opinionated member of the household over the value of "dark" literature versus "light" literature. "It is so easy to write about dark things," she might say. "Why don't we focus on happiness?" I think when most people read a "happy" story, they find it shallow, unrealistic, and boorish since, as any random perusal of the news will reveal, a lot of bad stuff happens in the world! Could we accept Hamlet and his uncle making up, "hugging it out," if you will, instead of destroying each other? This ending would not be consistent with human nature, and although "realism" does not have to be included on the list of requirements for a good book, a great literary work must be true to human nature. By the same token, I think we often make the mistake of calling "dark" art good simply because it is dark. "Ooh, did you see that new band? They wear black lipstick and sing about rat rabies. Hope you're mature enough to handle it." I think something that's dark just for the heck of it is just as shallow as something that's full of bunnies and rainbows and princess ponies. Anyway, there is a profound difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is merely an emotion while joy is a state of being that is rarely felt. It is a rendezvous with the metaphysical delights that God has created to pleasure our souls: friendship, loyalty, love, forgiveness, etc. Sure, these can be found in any sugary, sappy Christmas special or "Full House" episode, but these are just shadows of the real things. Because of its precious nature, Joy will necessarily be rare compared to the darkness but in the end is infinitely more valuable. Now, I'll step away from my ramblings and actually talk about the book. Although I don't think Kenneth Graham was an inkling, Wind in the Willows seems to fall in quite nicely with the works of Lewis and Tolkien. It not only has British charm, but it also has a healthy dose of that deep male comradarie that figures so prominently in Lord of the Rings. A bunch of bachelors who have settled comfortably into their ways, the animals in WIW remind me of retired Oxford dons who feel they need nothing more than peace, a good pipe, and the morning paper. When Mole and Rat are together, they don't have to talk about any particular thing to emotionally satisfy the other. It is enough for them to be together and in this atmosphere of acceptance, they will inevitably share their dreams with each other. The whole book just feels cozy. I also respect any book that doesn't have to resort to the whole "good vs. evil" thing for plot or theme. These are simple characters with common experiences that become profound through their commonness. Being lost, coming home, sharing a meal, fearing the wide world, conquering a foe, learning to row. Although WIW is a children's book, these themes make it feel much more real than the melodramas put out by Hollywood. Mole and Rat even get a taste of the profound when they encounter Pan, whom I believe represents the spiritual side of life which modern folks so foolishly ignore and deny. Anyway, I liked the book. You should read it. Blah, blah, blah!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I was suspicious of this book when I was a kid. It's all, "Hey kids, here's a fun story about talking animals," right? And I was like no, this is just you banging on about trees. This is a pastoral poem in disguise. It's boring. This book is like the guy who comes into your classroom and sits backwards on a chair all, "Sammy the sock puppet is here to get real about abstinence!" It's like when your mom was like "I froze this banana and it's just as good as a popsicle!" It is not. Mom is full of I was suspicious of this book when I was a kid. It's all, "Hey kids, here's a fun story about talking animals," right? And I was like no, this is just you banging on about trees. This is a pastoral poem in disguise. It's boring. This book is like the guy who comes into your classroom and sits backwards on a chair all, "Sammy the sock puppet is here to get real about abstinence!" It's like when your mom was like "I froze this banana and it's just as good as a popsicle!" It is not. Mom is full of shit. More things that are bullshit - Carob - The Berenstain Bears - Mathletes - Sturbridge Village You can't fool kids, and since I am super immature you can't fool me either: Wind in the Willows is still boring. I'm not saying it's all bad! The parts with Mr. Toad are pretty entertaining. Poop poop! Lol, I'm on Team Toad. blah blah blah trees and shit But it's like sitting through Mr. Rogers just to get to the Make-Believe stuff. In between there are just pages and pages of hogwash like this:"Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties."And here's what that is: it's booooring. So, what was bullshit for you when you were a kid? Knowing is half the battle! Now I want a popsicle.

  20. 3 out of 5

    Bradley

    Re-read now to make up for reading it a long time ago. What did I think about it? The adventures of Toad, that inestimable peerage of nobility and intelligence? Pfffttth. Unlike the other classic I just finished, these talking animals have little to do with religion or politics other than a cameo performance from Pan. And that was just a little last minute grace. :) So what did I think about the whole book? It's a comic buddy novel with very loud and distinctive Victorian animals having adventures, Re-read now to make up for reading it a long time ago. What did I think about it? The adventures of Toad, that inestimable peerage of nobility and intelligence? Pfffttth. Unlike the other classic I just finished, these talking animals have little to do with religion or politics other than a cameo performance from Pan. And that was just a little last minute grace. :) So what did I think about the whole book? It's a comic buddy novel with very loud and distinctive Victorian animals having adventures, watching Toad get into trouble or eventually getting Toad out of trouble, or otherwise enjoying rashers of bacon. Funny? As in Three Men in a Boat funny? Perhaps. But this one is absolutely a children's novel, too. And quite fun. :)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    "The real way to travel... The only way to travel! O bliss! O poop-poop!... What carts I shall fling into the ditch! Horrid carts-- common carts-- canary-coloured carts!.... Me complain of that beautiful, heavenly vision! That swan, that sunbeam, that thunderbolt!" --Frog on automobiles

  22. 3 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    For my review of the text of this wonderful book, please LINK HERE. This review is for an excellent illustrated edition of the children’s classic novel, The Wind in the Willows. The text is complete, printed in a largish font in an oversize book, and the many beautiful illustrations are by the established fantasy artist, Michael Hague. The quality of his work has been compared with that of Arthur Rackham, and indeed I noticed a few nods and tributes to his talented forebear, even to the style of For my review of the text of this wonderful book, please LINK HERE. This review is for an excellent illustrated edition of the children’s classic novel, The Wind in the Willows. The text is complete, printed in a largish font in an oversize book, and the many beautiful illustrations are by the established fantasy artist, Michael Hague. The quality of his work has been compared with that of Arthur Rackham, and indeed I noticed a few nods and tributes to his talented forebear, even to the style of Michael Hague’s signature on the corner of one particularly sepia-toned watercolour, using a wide alphabetical style, inside a hand-drawn oblong frame. This is very reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s trademark signature. Michael Hague describes how the love of The Wind in the Willows had passed through four generations of his family, with his grandmother remembering with delight her own father reading the book to her, shortly after it had first been published in 1908. When Michael Hague himself was asked to illustrate the book, he felt this to be a great honour, following in the steps of Ernest H. Shepard and Arthur Rackham, but he was also conscious of a great sense of responsibility: “I love the book. I love the dependable Water Rat, the kindly Mole, the sturdy Badger, and especially I love Mr. Toad … There is, I think, a bit of Toad in all of us. Certainly there must have been a bit of Mr Toad in me when I agreed to illustrate his book.” Michael Hague makes it clear that he does not try to reinterpret the story, but instead: “to infuse my illustrations with the same spirit that Kenneth Graham’s magic words convey … I begin with character studies and try to capture on paper what I see in my mind’s eye.” His small thumbnail sketches of each character are then developed and enlarged to full sketches, before Michael Hague begins to draw the full scene. This way of working has produced illustrations which are full of life, immediacy and energy. The individual personalities seem exactly right, as if they have sprung straight out of the story. I personally much prefer these to Ernest H. Shepard’s sketchily drawn features on his characters in this book, which do not seem to have the quirkiness and life of those in the “Winnie the Pooh” books. Michael Hague works in line and water colour, although, unusually, he draws in 2H pencil initially, so that the thin wash will not be smudged. Either an ochre or blue wash is then laid down, depending on whether he envisages a cool or a warm picture. The other colours are then applied, and the ink lines are the final stage. The result is a vibrant yet naturalistic illustration of old-fashioned country life. The affectionately drawn characters are set within countryside which is imbued with the season and the time of day, and is heavily atmospheric. The trees are dark, knobbly, brooding - and a few have faces, especially in the night time scenes. The riverbank is fresh and verdant, with easily to identify familiar flora bursting forth. Indoor scenes are bustling with cheerful people, full of good humour (and a few sly jokes, such as a pickpocket in action, on the edge of one railway scene!) They are carefully observed, showing authentic Edwardian dress, and accurate ancient buildings such as the gaol. Equally, the indoor scenes of Mole’s homes and Toad’s castle feel cosy and comfortable, or impressively ornate, complete with oil portraits of Toad’s illustrious ancestors. All are a delight to pause over, and enjoy the detail therein. If you wish to choose just one illustrated version for a child to read, when they are old enough to enjoy the unabridged novel with its original language, this edition is definitely the one I would recommend.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Though female characters are almost completely nonexistent in this story, I find myself enjoying this book all over again; this could easily be the fourth time I've read this book. There is a certain comfortable, uncomplicated rural Britishness about this story. With all its class divisions and expectations firmly in place, and not questioned at all.... Dear Mole and Rat boating along the river on a lazy summer afternoon, Badger's stern, codgery self, and absolutely unrepentantly silly and vain T Though female characters are almost completely nonexistent in this story, I find myself enjoying this book all over again; this could easily be the fourth time I've read this book. There is a certain comfortable, uncomplicated rural Britishness about this story. With all its class divisions and expectations firmly in place, and not questioned at all.... Dear Mole and Rat boating along the river on a lazy summer afternoon, Badger's stern, codgery self, and absolutely unrepentantly silly and vain Toad stealing cars entertained me and had me wishing a little that I could visit Mole's tidy and well laid out little home, listen to one of Rat's poems, and have breakfast at Badger's warm, comfortable and wonderful home in the Forest; (Badger's home also felt to me like it was a model for Tolkien's Bag End.) I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the audio from Librivox.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I found myself smiling as I finished this reading of The Wind in the Willows. Yes I enjoyed the tale of Rat and Mole and Badger and Toad and all the other assorted animals and their people who populate that corner of England. What struck me most during this reading, which is my second as far as I recall, is that this just doesn't feel like a children's book in so many ways. The language is so rich. The descriptions, whether of characters or places, are so full. I find this better in some ways as I found myself smiling as I finished this reading of The Wind in the Willows. Yes I enjoyed the tale of Rat and Mole and Badger and Toad and all the other assorted animals and their people who populate that corner of England. What struck me most during this reading, which is my second as far as I recall, is that this just doesn't feel like a children's book in so many ways. The language is so rich. The descriptions, whether of characters or places, are so full. I find this better in some ways as an adult's children's story with all the obvious parables and lessons. Would they be obvious to a child? I wonder. Well this adult enjoyed them, given in their animal guise. Love and value your friends. Avoid that pride which definitely will lead to a fall. Biblical. Is this in fact the garden of Eden.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This really isn't a children's book; I don't think you can really admire the beauty here until you are older. My edition is, in fact, the edition my great aunt gave my father. It isn't so much the sense of a simpler time, more of a sense of simpler life. If the Hobbits in Middle Earth are the standard English folk, the animals, the mammals, are the standard English folk here. Still enjoyable. Love Ratty.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James

    There are undoubtedly some lovely, engaging and entertaining moments along the way – and there are clearly some memorable characters in Kenneth Grahame’s ‘Wind in the Willows’. (This edition is beautifully illustrated by Ernest Shepard which enhances the stories no end). Somehow, some way though – I just don’t get it… I don’t understand the great appeal, the classic literary status or the high esteem in which Grahame’s book is held? Clearly I am missing something and I’m not sure what that is..? There are undoubtedly some lovely, engaging and entertaining moments along the way – and there are clearly some memorable characters in Kenneth Grahame’s ‘Wind in the Willows’. (This edition is beautifully illustrated by Ernest Shepard which enhances the stories no end). Somehow, some way though – I just don’t get it… I don’t understand the great appeal, the classic literary status or the high esteem in which Grahame’s book is held? Clearly I am missing something and I’m not sure what that is..? It is not the issue of anthropomorphism – that in itself I don’t have a problem with at all. It’s also not that ‘Wind in the Willows’ is a particularly poor book, but to me it is in no way a great one. For fear of perhaps damning it with faint praise….it’s okay.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kimmie

    I forgot how much I loved this book. Previous reviewers I have read seem to find it wordy or cumbersome. Personally, I find it beautifully descriptive. I am currently reading it to my 3 and 4 year old boys at bed time, a half a chapter at a time, and they seem to be enjoying it, as well. No, its not a quick, easy read, but it is worth it for all the lost vocabulary that we see so seldom in modern author's works.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Parthiban Sekar

    It takes a mean adult to criticize a children's book; and a mean child to moralize a children's book, IMO.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    One of the great classics with animals and soft creeks and idyllic surroundings, my childhood memories can still hear that breeze rustling through the glades alongside the Thames. The adventures of Toad, Rat, Mole, and Badger are universal in their light moral messages and each is endearing and will create enduring memories in the hearts of your children. Come to think of it, it is about time I dusted this off and read it to my kids!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    This is a review for the children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. For my full review of Kenneth Grahame’s original masterpiece, please LINK HERE. The Wind in the Willows was originally published as plain text, with no illustrations except for a frontispiece by Graham Robertson, but many illustrated, comic and annotated versions of the story have been published subsequently over the years. The one illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard is p This is a review for the children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. For my full review of Kenneth Grahame’s original masterpiece, please LINK HERE. The Wind in the Willows was originally published as plain text, with no illustrations except for a frontispiece by Graham Robertson, but many illustrated, comic and annotated versions of the story have been published subsequently over the years. The one illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard is perhaps the most famous one of these, and sometimes mistakenly thought to be the first, but in fact his 1931 illustrations were the third to be produced. They are many people’s favourites, perhaps because Ernest H. Shepard’s drawings for A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” in 1926 are world-famous, and seem to define the bear decades before Walt Disney got his hands on the idea and “cutseyfied” it. Indeed it is hard to think of the book of “Winnie the Pooh” without Ernest H. Shepard’s inimitable style. Yet the book was around, and immensely popular, for twenty years without them. In a way, Ernest H. Shepard seems to have been an odd choice for an illustrator of soft toys or anthropomorphised animals, as his characters often have their faces hidden, or shadowed. Perhaps it is less so in “Winnie the Pooh”, but in The Wind in the Willows, the animal’s faces often seem curiously blank. Ernest H. Shepard worked in India ink and pen, in a kind of scratchy style, with a lot of cross-hatching. It is to be remembered that the original drawings were just these black and white line drawings, whether for all A.A. Milne’s books or for The Wind in the Willows. The “colouring-in of illustrations”, as the publisher Methuen refers to the watercolour addition, was completed in 1970 and 1971. If I am honest, these are not my favourite illustrations, out of the plethora available, including some by Arthur Rackham, a few years later. I do feel a great affection for them, however, because of their associations. This trio of Kenneth Grahame, A.A Milne, and Ernest H. Shepard seem inseparable. Both authors wrote children’s stories with a similar feel, at a similar time. Both were illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. And to clinch this connection, A.A Milne adapted part of The Wind in the Willows to produce his own stage play, “Toad of Toad Hall” which is still very popular.

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