The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

 

ChildrenFantasyThe Wind in the Willows (Tales of the Willows) The Wind in the WillowsKenneth Grahame; HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 1995WorldCat

One morning Mr. Mole is doing his spring cleaning when he throws down his broom. He needs to get away for a little bit. He heads through his tunnels to others until he comes out of the ground by the river. There he meets Mr. Rat and joins him on a boat ride on the river. They have great adventures. Mr. Mole moves in with Mr. Rat and starts a different. He had been alone in his underground hole. Now he has a good friend and lives with Rat by the river.

Quickly he meets Mr. Otter. He glimpses Mr. Badger. Rat takes him to meet Mr. Toad. Toad is a silly, conceited animal. He is wealthy and lives at Toad Hall. At first he is boating on the river with them. His boats keep getting bigger and sillier. But then he discovers a new love. Soon Toad is driving around the countryside. He isn’t safe, either. (You can check out how he drives by going to Disneyland or Disneyworld and taking “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride“.) His friends try to keep him safe.

The Wind in the Willows is Kenneth Grahame’s 90+ year old classic for children around age 10. The talking animals have a society like humans. They can be nice, mean, smart, silly, trusting, nervous, and good friends just like any human. Mr. Toad is especially silly. Mr. Mole is the nicest and shyest of the group. Mr. Badger is the steady hand. Mr. Rat is the animal who keeps everything going. They’re good friends.

I can see how a child would enjoy this book even now. American city children might have trouble picturing the English countryside, but people (and animals) don’t change. We can see ourselves in one or more of the friends and their lives. This would be a great book to read aloud with children. You have to laugh the first time Mole tries to row Rat’s boat. You know what will happen, but it’s still funny. Grahame captured their personalities.

As an adult reading The Wind in the Willows for myself, it’s an OK book. I enjoyed it but kept letting my adult thoughts get in the way. Some characters were rich, some weren’t. Grahame added that realism. But how did they earn their money? Silly me, it doesn’t matter for the book. Yet that thought and other similar ones kept coming back. I believe to appreciate it fully, I’ll need to read it to my granddaughters in a few years. (No, I never read this book as a kid or to my daughters. I missed this classic while growing up.)

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