Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The taming of the toad

Such a charming book, this one. And quite a quick read too. If there's anything bad that's been said about The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame's beloved classic children's book, I've yet to hear it.

Who isn't beguiled by the adventures of Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad? Through these characters, Grahame explores an array of human emotionsbeing 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:

  1. You love classic children's literature.
  2. You're looking for a comfort read.
  3. You've always imagined what it would be like if animals could talk.

6 comments:

Kaz said...

My children grew up on this book. I have a very worn paperback, and there are several illustrated large format editions lurking in amongst the boxes in storage that my mother bouyght for the boys. She took them to see it as a live production in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. I have a terribly worn, absoloutely beautiful stop animation version of it on video tape, and we all went - grand gala occasion - when Michael Palin and his lot made a madcap version of it as a film - the long leather coats of the weasles were something I lusted after for years!! They're now 21 and 27,m and there are odd phrases from the book that are part of the family-speak - literary typoes recognise the source, others probably just think we're a little bit odd!

Personally, I don't think there is anything bad that could be said about this book...

Peter S. said...

Hello, Kaz! Must be really interesting hearing you talk to your children, especially with all the phrases from TWitW casually thrown in!

Overthinker Palaboy said...

Not fan of books with animals talking. Hehe.

Peter S. said...

Awwww... Oh well, to each his own, I always believe. Enjoy the long weekend!

Ryan said...

I have yet to read this, though I love almost every film adaptation I've seen of it.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Ryan! Funny, I've never seen any of the movie adaptations.