The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

To his horror he recollected that he had left both coat and waistcoat behind him in his cell, and with them his pocket-book, money, keys, watch, matches, pencil-case - all that makes life worth living, all that distinguishes the many-pocketed animal, the lord of creation, from the inferior one-pocketed or no-pocketed productions that hop or trip about permissively, unequipped for the real contest.

This is a classic kids' book, written at at time when books written for children were not necessarily meant to entertain adults, but also apparently when children were expected to be a bit smarter. But don't take that to mean that adult readers won't enjoy it. It's a talking-animal book, with anthropomorphized creatures living in England, but Grahame doesn't really concern himself with the details. How big are these animals? What sort of interactions do they normally have with humans? How does Mr. Toad have hair? Kids probably won't be bothered by stuff like this, but it really made me wonder.

Mole is the shy homebody who finally ventures out into the world one spring, and meets the Water Rat, a fun fellow living on the shore of the river. In the Wild Wood lives Mr. Badger, a gruff fellow who likes his privacy but is warm to friends. And then there's Mr. Toad, a boastful, mercurial fellow who uses his wealth to pursue whatever his current fancy happens to be, usually to his own ruin.

The book is a mix of action-adventure scenes and slow, lyrical passages, and is hard to categorize. The writing is wonderful, and the different personalities of the four friends leads to some great drama and stories. It's also not necessarily one sequential plotline, but meanders through the lives of the four friends (mostly Rat and Mole, with some intercut Toad stories) without a strong sense of how much time has passed between scenes.

We read it recently as a bedtime story and enjoyed it, and it's another book that I look forward to reading to Ridley when she's a bit older.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 10, 2007 | Comments (0)


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