The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: Book Review

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The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame Book Cover
Title: The Wind in the Willows

My Synopsis:

Join Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger on a few seasons of adventure on the banks of The River and in The Wild Wood.

My Review:

I’ve never read this before and found it pretty charming if a bit outdated. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it in elementary school. I remember bits and pieces of the Disney cartoon but I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever watched the whole thing.

The illustrations by David Roberts in this edition were bright and engaging.

Luckily, I noticed as I was flipping through the front matter that this is an abridged version. The publisher eliminated the chapter entitled “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” because it “pauses the action and is largely about the god Pan from Greek mythology.” I’m not a fan of abridgements so I downloaded an ebook to read the missing chapter in the proper sequence (It’s the real chapter 7 if you’re curious). It was a beautiful, dreamy piece and I’m so glad I read it. I think this book is the poorer for leaving it out.

I liked the chapters about Rat, Mole, and Badger a lot. They’re gentle animals doing gentle things. But Toad–well, Toad is annoying. He’s rich and conceited and gets away with a lot of shenanigans because he’s rich. I kept waiting on him to get a good comeuppance but really all he had to do in the end was throw some more money at his problems. He does eventually show some growth but I was fed up with him by then.

I’m not sure how modern parents would look on this book, not being one myself. The characters throw the word ass around a lot, as in “Toad, don’t be an ass.” My mom would have rephrased that even in the ’80s. The animals drink beer and smoke. It’s all appropriate to the time the book was written but how is that viewed in children’s literature now?

I’m glad I read this and reservedly recommend it with the caveats listed above.

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  1. I keep thinking I have read this book because I know we owned a copy of it when I was young. However, I don’t actually think I have read it… and I’m not even sure I’ve watched all of the related Disney cartoon, either. (I know I’ve seen parts… but I can’t remember more than snippets.) I’ll probably read it one of these days—it *is* a classic, and I’m curious. But I’ll have to remember to look for an unabridged version when I do.

    1. I put it on my Classics Club list since it felt like a book I should read at some point in my life. I did like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride more than I probably should have considering that I was 19 years old the first time I went to Disney World. 🙂 I was sad when I realized they took it out.

      1. It does feel like one of those books that we should read at some point. And while they took Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride out of Walt Disney World, it’s still at Disneyland if you wanted to go on a similar-but-different version. (I never rode the WDW version, but I know they weren’t exactly the same.)

          1. I have a couple of friends who are Disney super fans. I mean, we like Disney, but they are hardcore, if you can say that about Disney. I think they were disappointed in us for choosing California Adventure over “the original.” The Pixar stuff at CA caught my eye! I’m sure we’ll get there someday. I’m glad to hear it’s your favorite!

          2. I can understand where they are coming from—there’s nothing quite like Disneyland, in my opinion. But California Adventure is different where as the Magic Kingdom essentially started out as a copy of Disneyland. There’s plenty of reason to choose one or the other.

  2. I really don’t like abridged editions, either. I don’t think editors should tamper with an author’s work, especially since that author isn’t here to defend that work. Glad you downloaded the original and read what the author intended.

    1. I truly don’t understand the point of abridgements. Well, I guess I kind of can if a classic has problematic language or something. I’m at least open to discussing the idea. But this edition basically said the missing chapter was boring so they took it out. That’s not a good reason in my opinion.

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