The Wind in the Willows

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9780689713101: The Wind in the Willows

Since its beginnings as a series of stories told to Kenneth Grahame's young son, The Wind in the Willows has gone on to become one of the best-loved children's books of all time. The timeless story of Toad, Rat, Mole, and Badger, brought to vivid life by Ernest H. Shepard's illustrations, has delighted readers of all ages for more than eighty years.

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Review:

Inspired by correspondence from Wind in the Willow's author Kenneth Grahame to his young son, award-winning illustrator Michael Foreman took up paint and brush to follow Mole, Ratty, Mr. Badger, and Toad through another edition of this well-loved kids classic.

Grahame's time-honored story, an adventure-filled idyll that meanders across a lovingly described English countryside, cemented its status as a masterpiece generations ago. But this newest edition adds some noteworthy extras: the unabridged text includes two chapters that don't appear in some modern versions ("The Pipers at the Gates of Dawn" and "Wayfarers All"), and the book closes with reproductions of two of Grahame's actual letters to his son Alistair ("My darling Mouse") in 1907, written on ornate, old-timey stationery from two Cornwall hotels and recounting one of Toad's first adventures (which Toad fans will recognize as the train-assisted escape of a certain "washerwoman").

These inclusions alone might merit a new edition, but Foreman's illustrations stand shoulder to shoulder with those of previous Winds artists (among them Ernest Shepard, the original illustrator, and Arthur Rackham, both of whom Foreman modestly stands "in awe" of). The lively, full-color illustrations appear generously throughout the book, as they convincingly capture both the story's small moments (like the washerwoman's weeping, for one) and more explosive events (like the storming of Toad Hall). (All ages) --Paul Hughes

Review:

"[Mole] 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." Such is the cautious, agreeable Mole's first introduction to the river and the Life Adventurous. Emerging from his home at Mole End one spring, his whole world changes when he hooks up with the good-natured, boat-loving Water Rat, the boastful Toad of Toad Hall, the society- hating Badger who lives in the frightening Wild Wood, and countless other mostly well-meaning creatures. Michael Hague's exquisitely detailed, breathtaking color illustrations on almost every generous spread--along with Kenneth Grahame's elegant, delightfully old-fashioned characterizations of the animals--make this book a wonderful read-aloud. Grahame's The Wind in the Willows has enchanted readers for four generations, and this lavishly illustrated gift edition is perhaps the finest around. (All ages, or 9 to 12)

This reviews refers to ISBN 0805002138.

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