Who isn't beguiled by the adventures of Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad? Through these characters, Grahame explores an array of human emotions—being afraid, experiencing the joys of coming home and encountering something new, conquering one's fear, to name a few. Ironic that it will take animals to fully show these emotions in a wonderful story.
While there's a running story line in The Wind in the Willows, the episodic adventures of the different characters are what struck me the most. I particularly love the chapter where Mole returns to his home with Rat in tow. In this poignant chapter, Grahame shows us that no matter how much we've traveled, it is in our homes where we truly find comfort.
I won't call Toad the main character in Grahame's book. Nor is there a singular protagonist in The Wind in the Willows. We do see Toad transform from one who is absolutely obsessed with motor cars (to the point that he would lie and scheme) to a character who is humbled after realizing the unfortunate consequences of his actions. Toad wouldn't have become a better individual without the help of his friends, Rat and Mole. It's such an inspired cast.
It's a good thing that this children's novel was part of Penguin Threads, otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered to pick it up. The beautiful embroidered cover design did it for me. Also, the introduction by Gregory Maguire on what makes this book a classic is very insightful. If I had children, this would automatically be required reading in the house.
Read this book if:
- You love classic children's literature.
- You're looking for a comfort read.
- You've always imagined what it would be like if animals could talk.