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The Wind in the Willows: An Illustrated Classic

The Wind in the Willows: An Illustrated Classic

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The Wind in the Willows: An Illustrated Classic

évaluations:
4/5 (2,876 évaluations)
Longueur:
232 pages
4 heures
Sortie:
May 1, 2018
ISBN:
9781684124091
Format:
Livre

Description

A classic story of adventure, friendship, and morality beloved by generations of readers.

The adventures of Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger have been enjoyed by readers for more than a century, and Kenneth Grahame's classic tale is now available in this illustrated edition. Join the mischievous and endearing animals of the Wild Wood as they romp through the English countryside, getting in and out of trouble—always with their friends by their side. A dozen full-page color drawings by acclaimed illustrator Arthur Rackham add a lovely artistic touch to the stories, making this volume a treasured keepsake.
Sortie:
May 1, 2018
ISBN:
9781684124091
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. After the death of his mother and abandonment by his father, Grahame went to live with his grandmother in Berkshire, near the River Thames. He pursued his passion for writing while maintaining a career in banking. He enjoyed great success in both endeavors. The Wind in the Willows was originally written in parts and given in letter to his son.

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The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Introduction

To the moderately well-read person Kenneth Grahame is known as the author of two books written in the 1890s: The Golden Age and Dream Days. In his spare time he was Secretary of the Bank of England. Reading these delicately lovely visions of childhood, you might have wondered that he could be mixed up with anything so unlovely as a bank; and it may be presumed that at the bank an equal surprise was felt that such a responsible official could be mixed up with beauty.

In 1908 he wrote The Wind in the Willows. The first two books had been about children such as only the grown-up could understand; this one was about animals such as could be loved equally by young and old. It was natural that those critics who had saluted the earlier books as masterpieces should be upset by the author’s temerity in writing a different sort of book; natural that they should resent their inability to place the new book as more or less of a children’s book than those which had actually had children in them. For this reason (or some other) The Wind in the Willows was not immediately the success which it should have been. Two people, however, became almost offensively its champions. One of them was no less important a person than the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote:

The White House,

Washington,

January 17, 1909

Personal

My dear Mr. Grahame,

My mind moves in ruts, as I suppose most minds do, and at first I could not reconcile myself to the change from the ever-delightful Harold and his associates, and so for some time I could not accept the toad, the mole, the water-rat and the badger as substitutes. But after a while Mrs. Roosevelt and two of the boys, Kermit and Ted, all quite independently, got hold of The Wind Among the Willows and took such a delight in it that I began to feel that I might have to revise my judgement. Then Mrs. Roosevelt read it aloud to the younger children, and I listened now and then. Now I have read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends; and I am almost more fond of it than of your previous books. Indeed, I feel about going to Africa very much as the seafaring rat did when he almost made the water rat wish to forsake everything and start wandering!

I felt I must give myself the pleasure of telling you how much we had all enjoyed your book.

With all good wishes,

Sincerely yours,

Theodore Roosevelt

The other was no more important than the writer of this essay.

For years I have been talking about this book, quoting it, recommending it. In one of my early panegyrics I said: I feel sometimes that it was I who wrote it and recommended it to Kenneth Grahame. This is even truer now than it seemed to be at the time. A few years ago I turned it into a play called Toad of Toad Hall, which ran for many Christmas seasons in London; and constant attendance at rehearsals made me so familiar with the spoken dialogue that I became more and more uncertain as to which lines of it were taken direct from the book, which lines were adapted, and which lines were entirely my own invention. It has been a great disappointment at times to see some pleasant quotation after the words: As Kenneth Grahame so delightfully said, and to realise that he actually did say it … and an equal disappointment at times to realise that he didn’t.

When he and Mrs. Grahame first came to see the play, they were charming enough to ask me to share their box. I was terrified, for had I been the writer of the book, and he the dramatist, I should have resented every altered word of mine and every interpolated word of his.

He was not like that. He sat there, an old man now, as eager as any child in the audience, and on the occasions (fortunately not too rare) when he could recognise his own words, his eye caught his wife’s, and they smiled at each other, and seemed to be saying: I wrote thatYes, dear, you wrote that, and they nodded happily at each other, and turned their eyes again to the stage. It was almost as if he were thanking me in his royally courteous manner for letting him into the play at all, whereas, of course, it was his play entirely, and all I had hoped to do was not to spoil it. For, when characters have been created as solidly as those of Rat and Mole, Toad and Badger, they speak ever after in their own voices, and the dramatist has merely to listen and record.

One can argue over the merits of most books, and in arguing understand the point of view of one’s opponent. One may even come to the conclusion that possibly he is right after all. 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, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can’t criticise it, because it is criticising us. It is a Household Book; a book which everybody in the household loves, and quotes continually; a book which is read aloud to every new guest and is regarded as the touchstone of his worth. But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don’t be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgement on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgement on yourself. You may be worthy: I don’t know. But it is you who are on trial.

A. A. Milne

CHAPTER ONE

THE RIVER BANK

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said Bother! and Oh blow! and also Hang spring-cleaning! and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, Up we go! Up we go! till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

This is fine! he said to himself. This is better than whitewashing! The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living, and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

Hold up! said an elderly rabbit at the gap. Sixpence for the privilege of passing by the private road! He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about. Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce! he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all started grumbling at each other. "How stupid you are! Why didn’t you tell him— Well, why didn’t you say— You might have reminded him—" and so on, in the usual way, but, of course, it was then much too late, as is always the case.

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting—everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering Whitewash! he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce! he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply.

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

As he sat on the grass and looked across the river, a dark hole in the bank opposite, just above the water’s edge, caught his eye, and dreamily he fell to considering what a nice snug dwelling-place it would make for an animal with few wants and fond of a bijou riverside residence, above flood-level and remote from noise and dust. As he gazed, something bright and small seemed to twinkle down in the heart of it, vanished, then twinkled once more like a tiny star. But it could hardly be a star in such an unlikely situation; and it was too glittering and small for a glow-worm. Then, as he looked, it winked at him, and so declared itself to be an eye; and a small face began gradually to grow up round it, like a frame round a picture.

A little brown face, with whiskers.

A grave round face, with the same twinkle in its eye that had first attracted his notice.

Small neat ears and thick silky hair.

It was the Water Rat!

Then the two animals stood and regarded each other cautiously.

Hullo, Mole! said the Water Rat.

Hullo, Rat! said the Mole.

Would you like to come over? enquired the Rat presently.

"Oh, it’s all very well to talk," said the Mole, rather pettishly, he being new to a river and riverside life and its ways.

The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole’s whole heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.

The Rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his forepaw as the Mole stepped gingerly down. Lean on that! he said. Now then, step lively! and the Mole to his surprise and rapture found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.

This has been a wonderful day! said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in all my life.

What? cried the Rat, open-mouthed. Never been in a—you never—well, I—what have you been doing, then?

Is it so nice as all that? asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

"Nice? It’s the only thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing—about—in—boats; messing—"

Look ahead, Rat! cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

"—about in boats—or with boats, the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. Look here! If you’ve really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together and have a long day of it?"

The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest with a sigh of full contentment, and leaned back blissfully into the soft cushions. "What a day I’m having! he said. Let us start at once!"

Hold hard a minute, then! said the Rat. He looped the painter through a ring in his landing-stage, climbed up into his hole above, and after a short interval reappeared staggering under a fat, wicker luncheon-basket.

Shove that under your feet, he observed to the Mole, as he passed it down into the boat. Then he untied the painter and took the sculls again.

What’s inside it? asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.

There’s cold chicken inside it, replied the Rat briefly; coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwidgespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—

Oh stop, stop, cried the Mole in ecstasies: This is too much!

Do you really think so? enquired the Rat seriously. "It’s only what I always take on these little excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I’m a mean beast and cut it very fine!"

The Mole never heard a word he was saying. Absorbed in the new life he was entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long waking dreams. The Water Rat, like the good little fellow he was, sculled steadily on and forbore to disturb him.

Shove that under your feet, he observed to the Mole, as he passed it down into the boat.

I like your clothes awfully, old chap, he remarked after some half an hour or so had passed. I’m going to get a black velvet smoking-suit myself someday, as soon as I can afford it.

I beg your pardon, said the Mole, pulling himself together with an effort. You must think me very rude; but all this is so new to me. So—this—is—a—River!

"The River," corrected the Rat.

And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!

By it and with it and on it and in it, said the Rat. It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together! Whether in winter or summer, spring or autumn, it’s always got its fun and its excitements. When the floods are on in February, and my cellars and basement are brimming with drink that’s no good to me, and the brown water runs by my best bedroom window; or again when it all drops away and shows patches of mud that smells like plum-cake, and the rushes and weed clog the channels, and I can potter about dry-shod over most of the bed of it and find fresh food to eat, and things careless people have dropped out of boats!

But isn’t it a bit dull at times? the Mole ventured to ask. Just you and the river, and no one else to pass a word with?

No one else to—well, I mustn’t be hard on you, said the Rat with forbearance. "You’re new to it, and of course you don’t know. The bank is so crowded nowadays that many people are moving away altogether. Oh no, it isn’t what it used to be, at all. Otters, kingfishers, dabchicks, moorhens, all of them about all day long and always wanting

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  • (4/5)
    I have never read this book and here at the holiday season thought it would be a fun read. Oh yes it was! Kenneth Graham's classic tale of the friendship between the upstanding rat, the loyal mole, the wise badger and the totally disreputable Mr. Toad is as charming today as it was when it was published in 1908.
  • (4/5)
    Cute adventures of Mr. Toad and his friends. The story where they meet Pan seems out of place.
  • (4/5)
    The Wind in the Willows opens in a bucolic way, as Mole ventures out from home and meets up with Rat, and the two gentlemanly country animals become fast friends. Soon Badger is added to their troop. But then there is Mr. Toad, a wealthy, vain wastrel, who flits from one ridiculous obsession to another.The book sort of splits then, with some chapters following the adventures of the idiotic, boastful, live-for-the-moment Toad, while other chapters focus on the other friends. Those chapters tend towards dullness, for while Mole, Rat and Badger are definitely the characters one might like if one knew them, they do not have interesting adventures. They go about being polite to each other and enjoying a pretty day. Toad on the other hand, wrecks automobiles, steals automobiles, goes to jail, escapes from jail, and on and on. I didn't enjoy the book on the whole as much as I expected to from such a renowned classic; good, but not great in my mind. The duller chapters weighted it down. I also found the presence of humans in this world disconcerting. Seems to me all of the characters should have been animals.
  • (3/5)
    I really wanted to love this book. It started off well, but it just started feeling like a chore to read. With just another 50 pages to read, I can't get motivated to finish. Was there some reason why there weren't any female animals/characters?
  • (4/5)
    A beautiful children's book which, like so many really good children's books, is still of great interest to adults.
  • (3/5)
    I have never read The Wind in the Willows but enjoyed this moralistic story. I cannot believe that the story was intended for children, as underneath the characters reside many moral stories. The Toad represents a greedy, egotistic individual that must undergo a transformation. His friends, the Rat, the Badger, and the Mole, remain loyal in efforts to assist the Toad. The Toad encounters a lengthy journey of self-discovery and remains set on his misbegotten path. The story spends numerous pages on description that would bore a child. A child needs more action and less speech.
  • (3/5)
    Surprisingly decent.
  • (4/5)
    The Wind in the Willows is as daffy and charming as it must have seemed when it was first published in 1908. Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel follows the anthropomorphic adventures of several woodland creatures, primarily Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad. They enjoy many pastimes, including “messing about in boats,” Christmas caroling, and driving motor cars. This last becomes Mr. Toad’s passion, landing him in all sorts of trouble and, eventually, a dungeon. The animals have many adventures along the river and in the Wild Wood, but they all love home best, where they like to cozy up in front of a fireplace and enjoy simple meals with friends. What makes the book so funny is how the animals live alongside people, doing people things, but without exciting comment. And they do it all regardless of the comparative size of things. Mole and Rat harness a horse to a gypsy caravan, field mice slice a ham and fry it for breakfast, Toad drives people cars and wears a washerwoman’s clothes to escape from prison. It is easy to see why this book remains popular. Among other claims to fame, Teddy Roosevelt said he read it several times, P.G. Wodehouse was clearly influenced by the lighthearted humor (one of his novels, Joy in the Morning, shares the same title as the carol sung by the field mice), and it shows up as one of Radcliffe's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. Also posted on Rose City Reader.
  • (3/5)
    Yes, it's a classic, and it definitely deserves that space. But it's also really meandering and slow and semi-plotless. I'm glad I re-read it after many years away.
  • (5/5)
    Five reasons why I love Wind in the Willows1. Playfulness: It’s pure delight when Mole decides to drop his spring cleaning and begin to enjoy a day of rest and play and leisure in the company of his new found friend, Ratty. Grahame reminds us of this essential part of “human” life, remember to take time of to enjoy life and rest and have fun. 2. True friendship: This is specially seen in the way they have patience with the silly conceited Toad and keep rescuing him and save him from himself. As William Horwood writes in the preface: “Kindness is at the very heart of “The Wind in the Willows”, the kindness that makes one character put the interests and needs of another first. For these are not characters out to gain advantage over each other.”3. Sweet Home (Dulce Domum): The scene where Mole feel homesickness and they decide to find his place and he invites Ratty in to his humble dwellings is priceless. Even the caroling field mice have a feast there. It reminds me of this essential breathing space - a home where meals unite family and friends - an almost holy place where we find renewed energy. 4. Transcendence: How to interprete the chapter “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”? The mysterious Friend, nature god Pan, this awe and reverence in the presence of something transcendent - the feeling of both joy and sadness. It’s just a miracle. 5. Poetic nature: Grahames poetic descriptions of nature is remarkable. You just feel a desire to experience it all in its fullness. The wind, the grass, the sun, the snow, the river bank.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent comfort book for when the day has been just that bad.
  • (4/5)
    What a sweet, lovely listen! Somehow I managed to totally miss this when I was a child. Even with my waning interest in kid lit, this darling tale captivated me. There's adventure and silliness seasoned well with kind friendship.
  • (2/5)
    Ratty, Mole and Badger become great friends when they meet at the riverbank, and in the Wild Wood. But it seems impossible to them to keep close friendships with Toad, the owner of the great Toad Hall. He does not understand the traditional culture of peaceful animals, and goes against the rules entirely - it's up to the three 'normal' animals to bring him back to the good-natured animal he used to be.

    He comes up with random likings to completely different things - once, he went on about boats, and a few days later, forgot all about them and whenever they were mentioned said what utter badness they caused and were. But this time, he has taken a liking to motor cars, and he steals and robs them, and when he does, drives them terrifically horribly.

    Ending up in prison and in even more trouble than when he was driving about in the motor car, Toady was upset and missed his beautiful Toad Hall. And even when he escapes with the gaoler's daughter, he returns to the mansion to find that it has been taken over by the evil stoats and weasels!

    It's up to him, Ratty, Mole and Badger to get it back for Toad. And when they do, will he turn to that ordinary young Toady he so used to be?

    Goes on a bit, I suppose; but then, it uses good words and phrases, unlike the modern-day books, which are filled not with, '"Come, Moly, let us take back the Hall! Toady, you should know better!"', but with, 'She still looked stunningly beautiful.' and that sort of thing. Still, I would rather it didn't have so much description-this-description-that.
  • (5/5)
    I just finished reading this story to my five year-old daughter. She loved it! I sometimes needed to substitute more familiar vocabulary for less to create a smoother read aloud experience. For a slightly older child I wouldn't think this would be necessary. If you have only seen the Disney version, you are missing out. The characters are very genuine and lovable. The adventures they have are exciting without being terrifying, funny without being too silly, and the story is long enough for the reader (or read-to) to connect with the animals.I wasn't sure if the pace would be too slow for a young child, but it was not. The book could be divided into three acts: The River, The Woods, and Mr. Toad. Each story arc was exciting enough in it's own way to keep attention. The addition of so many wonderful full-color illustrations by Inga Moore only helped to hold interest. My daughter was truly sad to finish the final chapter. She now plays "Wind in the Willows" with her stuffed friends so that even though we have finished the book - the story continues.
  • (4/5)
    I remember my mom reading this to me when I was young. Brings back such great memories. I picked it up for 40 cents in a second hand store and what a treasure. Best money I have spent in a long time.
  • (4/5)
    The introduction tells us this is "the first novel-length animal fantasy" and as such "foreshadowing" "Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, Adam's Watership Down and White's Charlotte's Web. I've never read Winnie-the-Pooh, but I can't say I liked this one anywhere near as much as Watership Down or Charlotte's Web.. I think partly because those two other books the picture of the animals are consistent. The animals of Watership Down are ordinary rabbits, if rabbits had fables, myths and their own speech and consciousness. The animals of Charlotte's Web are animals who can speak to each other. The animals of The Wind in the Willows sometimes seem animal-shaped creatures who can be mistaken for humans, wear clothes and steal motorcars, and sometimes animals. And the stories seem more episodic compared to those other books. There is some lovely writing within, appealing tales of friendships (among males anyway, Grahame has seemingly little use for women) and certainly Toad of Toad Hall with his mania for motor-cars is unforgettable. Read for the first time as a adult, this doesn't have the appeal of say Alice in Wonderland, but I bet if I had first had it read to me at six-years-old or read it for myself at ten, I'd have been enchanted.
  • (4/5)
    An important early science fiction allegory (obvious influence on Animal Farm) of closeted gay subculture in Edwardian Britain.
  • (5/5)
    As the introduction (written back in the 80s by Grahame biographer Peter Green) rightly identifies, although Mr. Toad made The Wind in the Willows famous, his action packed adventures are the least evocative and I’d go further to say he’s the least interesting of the characters. The best chapter, Dulce Domum, in which Mole desperately seeks to return to his own home despite its humbleness is an intoxicatingly emotional description of the inescapable connection most of us have to our own familiar four walls however else we might imagine they seem to others (and nearly had me in tears by the time the carol singers arrived). The loyalty between Ratty and Mole is also especially touching, not unlike that between Sherlock and Watson, the former often riding roughshod of the latter’s feelings until he realises he’s gone too far, guilt sets in and he shambles about making amends.
  • (5/5)
    I managed to avoid somehow or other reading the complete Wind in the Willows until I was well into adulthood. Of course, it is probably impossible to escape bits of it such as Ratty's wise words...'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing...."But I found myself reading the full version around the 100 year anniversary of its original publication in 1908. And, despite myself. Quite enjoyed it. There is a bit of the class struggle reflected in it with Toad representing the worst of inherited wealth and privilige and ratty the best blend of smarts and good-heartedness. But really, I didn't buy this book for the story and I already have 3 other copies of the W/W. I bought for the wonderful illustrations by Robert Ingpen. He really is a favourite illustrator of mine. And, as is pointed out in the preface, it is no mean challenge to illustrate a book where everyone has their own mental pictures of Toa's caravan, or of the wild wood, or ratty and Mole's boating expedition etc. But, to my mind, the Ingpen version is simply one of the best, His style is semi realist.....realist enough for one to enjoy the warmth of Badger's fire and the food hanging from the ceiling of his abode. (p 60-61). It doesn't do to be too critical however; Badger's kitchen is true to the text with the glow and the warmth of the fire-lit kitchen whereas a REAK Badger's lair would be pitch black and maybe damp and certainly smelly. There is so much fun detail in Inpen's paintings. (I assume they are watercolour) but not quite sure. And they fade into a blurriness that hints at more details but just not enough to resolve. His draftsmanship is superb and he manages to faithfully portray the various animals whilst bestowing a pleasing familiarity upon them. I don't know how many illustrations there are in the book but did a quick sample count and it averages out at 7.5 illustrations per 10 pages. That is a wealth of illustration and fit makes the book a delight to read to children. Some of my favourite illustrations are of mole in the wild wood with the rabbit p 50; Badger leading Rat and Mole through underground passageways p76; Rat and Mole in the rowing boat just prior to dawn p121; the weasels, armed to the teeth attacking Toad hall.....p195. But these are just a few of the absolute gems in the book. Strongly recommend it.
  • (4/5)
    Not necessarily an avid children's book reader beyond my trusty Hardy Boys....but i recently saw a local community theater production of this, and in between the time i purchased the ticket and actually saw the play, this book showed up in a box of odds and ends someone gave me.....it seemed like fate was telling me to read it....So i did! And what a beautifully illustrated work this is. The fantastical world of these animals came to life for my stifled and stiff brain so much more so than had it not been just littered from end to end with gorgeous vivid drawings in both Black & White and Color
  • (3/5)
    Very glad to finally take the time to read this timeless children's classic! The adventures were just what I would expect from a young child's imagination. The language, however, was a bit dry and stiff and I felt the writing style kept me from engaging fully in the clever, fun little characters. Glad to have read, but a bit disappointed in the entertainment value.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of the most lovely, funny, and beautiful books that I have ever read. I've been reading and re-reading it since I was quite young, and it always leaves me wanting more. Mole, Rat, Badger, and especially the ingenious and inimitable Mr. Toad are a perfect fusion of temperaments, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. An odd shifting of tone from one chapter to the next nonetheless works perfectly, a rare alchemy that would have (and often has) turned leaden in the hands of a lesser author.

    But I won't be reviewing the book in great detail here. Instead, here's how Sebastian, my seven-year-old son, reacted to the story.

    I have to admit that I was worried that the book might be too advanced for him. And at first, my fears seemed prophetic: the story didn't seem to interest him very much, and he often asked to read something else (or read one of his own books to me). I had carefully picked an unabridged edition (TWitW is often abridged, with "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" chapter being the most frequent casualty), but I found myself abridging the book on the fly. The language is truly lovely, but at Sebastian's age some of the longer descriptive passages just don't work.

    After struggling to read it to him for several weeks ("Dad, let's read something else tonight!") I picked up the book with the private resolution that if Sebastian didn't get more interested in it that night, I'd return it to the library and wait a year before trying again.

    And then Mole decided to make a private trek into the Wild Wood to meet Badger.

    I'd forgotten how frightening that section was! It's like a ghost story. Sebastian was riveted. From that point on, he was captivated; he even had me bring it in the car, so I could read it to him on the way to the train station (my wife was driving, of course).

    It took me a little while to work out the voices. Mole's is nasal and high, a bit like Terry Jones' when he's playing a silly part in Monty Python (ironically, Jones played Toad in a movie adaptation of the book, I believe). Rat is more mellifluous and a bit, well, educated; I keep thinking of "the playing fields of Eaton" when I'm reading him (not the actual fields, mind you; I've never seen them. I'm thinking of the phrase.)

    Badger is more gruff, deep, and direct (I think of Ed Asner's Lou Grant, but as a Brit). For Otter, I think of a British athlete, a "jock" type; cheerful, casual, and strong; a bit like Hugh Laurie, for some reason (obviously not when he's playing House).

    I should note that I'm NOT particularly trying to do British accents; I'm just letting the voices in my head shade the voices as I read them. So a tinge of accent creeps in, so to speak.

    Toad is the one character who gave me trouble. Eventually I decided that since Toad gets the best lines, and has the most emotional moments, I might as well use something close to my own voice - but pitched just a little higher, and with just a touch of melodrama. Toad is quite a ham, after all.

    For a seven-year-old, Toad is clearly the favorite of the book. That "his" chapters alternate with other ones was sometimes a small problem - but even so, during (for example) the Toad-free "Dulce Domum" chapter in which Mole's nose and heart are temporarily recaptured by the smells of his old home (a truly heartrending scene) Sebastian's interest remained strong enough to carry him through to the next chapter.

    Without question, the high point comes in Chapter X, "The Further Adventures of Toad". Toad's incredibly funny song, his escapes and adventures, his highs and lows are all perfect grist for the child reader/listener (and for the parent who loves reading dramatically to their child, for that matter).

    The final two chapters cap the book off perfectly. Any properly bloodthirsty child will revel in the passages in which piles of pistols, swords, and cudgels are amassed for each animal to use in the battle to come. Tiptoeing along the secret passage, the battle itself...this is the sort of thing children love, when it's well-told. And it is perfectly written here.

    I will confess that the reform of Toad is not quite believable (Sebastian confidently told me that Toad would not stay reformed). And the ending comes just a little too quickly. I have always wished as soon as I finished the book that there was more - and so did Sebastian. I know that sequels have been written by some modern-day author; I tried to read one of them, but at the time it didn't quite work for me. Some day, perhaps, I'll try it again...but maybe not. It would be more rewarding to simply re-read The Wind in the Willows once again.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (2/5)
    One of those 'books I feel I ought to have read by now'. And as a classic, I was expecting it to be better than it was. I enjoyed the descriptions of the scenery and the transitions of the year in the English countryside, but found the plot lacking and the portrayal of the characters strange and generally unconvincing. As was Toad's change of heart at the end. Rather an odd little book, really. I suspect it's something I would have enjoyed more if I'd first read it as a child.
  • (5/5)
    classi children's story well loved
  • (5/5)
    This actually isn't the edition I read,which cancels the reasons for writing a review. I loved the line drawings, done by a recent modern artist. I can't find the cover--it was a large format-- but so many of the other editions and art seem very charming, so what the hey. Whatever you buy or read will probably work out just fine.A very nice book, a classic, for small children and then when they can read, they will enjoy going back and reading it themselves. Older kids reading it a first time? Yeah, I can see many wouldn't like it. I think the attraction for young children, rather like the Borrowers, is the cozy underground homes with furniture and tea and toast. Animals rowing boats. At, of 4 or 5, it just still seems possible. And Ratty and Mole: best buddies, never too harsh with the other's fears or failings. These are important feelings and uh messages.
  • (3/5)
    This classic of children’s literature tells the adventures of four good friends – Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad – living on the edge of The Wild Wood. Toad is the most vexing animal! He’s boastful and given to hyperbole; on the other hand, he’s generous with his friends and sincerely remorseful – eventually. Fortunately for him, his friends compensate for his shortcomings. Rat is ever resourceful and a font of information. Badger is the wise old man of the wild wood – somewhat of a recluse, but gracious and eager to help when called up. And then we have the ever curious Mole who starts out the adventure and proves to be steadfast, reliable and intelligent.

    Mary Woods does a great job performing the audio book. I can see why it’s remained popular with children for over 100 years. Somehow I never read it as a child (or have no memory of it). My adult self wasn’t all that impressed, however, so it gets a respectable but not enthusiastic 3 stars.
  • (4/5)
    Reeks of anthropomorphism, but at least the animals retain some of their uniquely bestial qualities. Each chapter has some awfully charming aspects and they all seem to resolve themselves toward the end. This is ultimately a meditation on friendship and the very human foibles that seem to reside within all of us. Perfect for just before bed-time reading!
  • (5/5)
    Perhaps this is one of the books you either love (which I do) or can leave. Charming creatures, true friendship, mostly harmless adventure where all is well that ends well for those most deserving. The lessons of life captured here are as real as any among humans while spinning "tails" of lives we can never experience. Lovely fantasy and a pleasure to read aloud to children.I recently enjoyed this again just for myself on my kindle. I highly recommend this to anyone wishing to escape to simpler times when tea by a fire or a picnic by the river watching the clouds pass by is a pleasure you seek.The adventures of Toad are a bit more exciting.Truly a classic tale somewhere between Thornton Burgess and Beatrix Potter.
  • (2/5)
    Dreadfully tedious and boring. I have difficulty believing that children these days would enjoy either the language or story (or lack thereof). The only interesting part of the entire book was the reclaiming of Toad's estate and that ended in half a second.