The Classic Wind in the Willows
I didn’t remember much about Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908). Whenever I came across the title on my shelves, I had a brief image of a toad and a rat having tea, but I couldn’t say for certain if that truly took place. All I did remember was that I was enchanted as I read it as a child, and will more than likely be enchanted still as I reach for it again.
It’s a timeless tale about friends visiting friends and the adventures they find. It begins when Mole grows tired of spring cleaning and goes outside where he meets Rat. They get along well and spend many days together boating on the river. They visit Toad, who takes them camping. Toad later becomes obsessed with cars and winds up hospitalized. They also visit Badger, who after being lost in the woods. Toad winds up in jail for stealing a car, his home is overtaken by weasels, and it is up to his friends to save him from himself.
This book has been lavishly illustrated in many editions. It has also been made into a Disney movie in 1941 and several stage adaptations. The book won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958.
British novelist, William Horwood created several sequels in the 1990s: The Willows in Winter, Toad Triumphant, The Willows and Beyond, and The Willows at Christmas.
Mr. Grahame (1859-1932) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He worked at the Bank of England until retiring in 1908. His masterpieces were created as bedtime stories for his son. His character, Toad, is said to have had the same wayward headstrong nature as his son. 🙂
Mr. Grahame also wrote The Reluctant Dragon. Originally published as part of Dream Days (1898), this is his most famous short story. It tells the tale of a boy who discovers an educated, mushroom-loving dragon living in the hills above the town. Their friendship is tested when the townspeople learn of the dragon and call for it to be hunted.
This story was also made into a Disney film in 1941, as well as an operreta.
If you have never wallowed in the idyllic setting of the riverbank in The Wind in the Willows, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy! The e-book is very inexpensive, but be sure the format you choose allows you to really see the illustrations in all their lavish detail! If you read it as a child, revisit it. I know I will be doing just that.