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Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows

Puffin Classics
by Kenneth Grahame
Publisher: Puffin Books
Mass market paperback, 245 pages
Current Retail Price: $5.99

There's a homebound joy wanderers can't know, and a glory in the road those who never leave their garden can't fathom. The Wind in the Willows celebrates both. Mole begins a little too attached to his hole, and Mr. Toad is overly addicted to fast machines, but their friendships do what friendships ought—offer balance where there isnone.

Kenneth Grahame's talking animal story of rural England began the way all talking animal stories begin, as tales for his son. The novel, however, grows with readers. Children love the Battle of Toad Hall, Ratty's gypsy caravan, Mole's timidity, and Badger's gruffness. Teens like Toad's songs and absurdity. Adults appreciate Toad's (often forgotten) heartfelt change.

All readers can appreciate Grahame's rambling poetic style. We smell the river, hear Mole clattering around his hole, taste Rat's food, see Toad crashing cars, feel Badger's mighty club smacking weasels in the head. You don't have to be an Englishman to appreciate his caricatures of British country types, or to instantly recognize them.

When Ratty and Mole meet the Piper at the Gates of Dawn we realize this isn't simply a bucolic adventure story. Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad are real people, animals only in name, who can be afraid, comfortable, enraged, silly and curious just as we can. The wanderlust that overcomes Ratty isn't just a desire to cover more terrain, it's a mystical urge to expand the soul.

Toad's exploits, by contrast, are mere indulgence—except that even his seemingly swampy soul is cleared, drained and replanted amid all his zaniness. Grahame doesn't beat us with an Aesop-like moral, however; The Wind in the Willowsis and shall remain a mature work of literary art fit to delight and instruct for generations to come.

<span class="body_italic" lic;="" line-height:="" 20px;"="">Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

 

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Exodus Rating
FLAWS: Mild violence, a strange mystical experience
Summary: A very English Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad find adventure, enduring friendship, and personal growth in the English countryside.

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  A Charming Book
Anna of West Linn, 8/31/2016
This book was a challenge for me to read because it was so large. I enjoyed every bit of it and loved the characters. The toad, a greedy fellow, and the mole and rat, sweet and loving, were all fun to read about. I loved all of their adventures and would recommend this book for ages 9 and up.