The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
|The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: There are good reasons why the book has been a classic for more than a century and this new edition will make a splendid gift, which, if my own experience of the book is anything to go by, will be valued for years to come.
|Date: October 2013
A Times Educational Supplement Teachers' Top 100 Book
Looking back on my childhood the book which made the most impact and one of the few which has remained in my bookcase ever since is The Wind in the Willows. I've returned to it many times over six or more decades and it's frequently brought comfort in bad times. It was the basis of my love for the countryside, which became a joy in itself rather than something to pass through on the way somewhere else as my parents would have had it. It was a good story, which - like all the best books - revealed a little more on every reading.
Most people will be familiar with the story of mole sensing the coming of spring, giving up on his spring cleaning, discovering the river and his new friend, Ratty. He's less certain when the pair visit Toad Hall and find themselves at the mercy of Toad's every fad: he's through boats and horse-drawn caravans don't last beyond the first difficulty and then he's on to the motor car. This might have been published in 1908, but you'll already have realised that it's as relevant now as it was more than a century ago. There's the joys and responsibilities of friendship, adventure, crime (or probably more accurately, morality), just a little mysticism and the glories of the countryside. Here it's the Thames valley - but as I read I see Wharfedale. Everyone will have their own spot.
The writing is a delight. The pace changes regularly - one minute you're messing about in boats and the next Toad is crashing yet another car or Ratty is off to rescue Mole from the Wild Wood, armed with a pistol and a stick. The battle to regain Toad Hall has me on the edge of my seat every time I read it. The story is suitable for children of about six years and upwards: Grahame makes no concessions with regard to vocabulary but I've never encountered a child who found any of it a problem. You are simply pulled along by the story.
I'll confess that I was nervous when I opened this book. It was the press release, you see. It spoke of a thoroughly modern makeover for Mole, Ratty, Badger, and Toad and the story had been stunningly reimagined. EEK! There are some things which you don't mess with and this book came high on my list of such things. It did take me a little while to retire my image of the four friends and substitute the illustrations by David Roberts - but they work well. They're more in tune with what children today will expect - and there are lots of them to enjoy.
The gift edition published by Oxford University Press in 2013 contains thirty two playing cards for family games.
If you're looking for a present then this book would be a good choice - and you never know, sixty years down the line an adult might well be remembering the gift and the pleasure it's given over the years. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If illustrations are your thing then have a look at Bookbag's Top Ten Books With Gorgeous Illustrations. And I think this book should be included in the Top Ten Classics of Children's Literature. You might also enjoy The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall by Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.