Monday, 10 December 2012

Book 80 of 2012: The Wind in the Willows

I've had this copy (this exact copy that I read, in fact) of The Wind in the Willows on my bookcase pretty much as long as I can remember. This edition is actually three years older than me so it's safe to call this an old favourite. Although I couldn't actually remember the last time I read it. I knew the vague outline of the story, but I'd forgotten big chunks of it, so although this was a reread, at times I felt like I was reading it for the first time.

It's a classic story which follows Mole, who meets Rat and they have various adventures together on the river. They have another friend, Toad, who lives in a manor house and has far more money than sense. He develops an obsession with motor cars and ends up having to do a stint in prison, which leads to his house being taken over by weasels, so it's up to Mole, Rat, Badger and the other animals to help get him out of his trouble.

This copy of the book has lovely illustrations by Harry Hargreaves and I vividly remember lying on my bedroom floor and copying out the pictures. They're lovely and capture the essence of the story really well. The introduction explains the problem of drawing pictures for a story like this, with making the animals animals, but with human aspect as well, which was quite interesting. I think that despite those problems, the pictures are pretty much perfect.

My favourite characters are Mole and Rat. I like that they've got a simplistic sort of view of life and are interested in comfortable living, being with their friends and good food. In a way they remind me of Hobbits, I would've read this around the same time that I first read The Hobbit; it's a little funny that some of my oldest favourites all involve characters who live in holes in the ground. I was always a bit of a good girl, so Mole and Rat, who follow the rules and behave themselves always appealled to me more than Toad.

I just can't bring myself to like Toad though. He used to really annoy me as a child and it's not something that's changed with time. I'm glad that he decides to turn over a new leaf, but he never seems to really be punished for what he does (stealing a car, crashing it, getting put in prison, escaping). I realise he's an animal and it's a children's story, but it's bugged me for years.

I've held onto this copy for so long because I can't wait to share it with my own children in the future. I think this'll make a brilliant bedtime story book, it's got nice little chapters so there are perfect breaks and I think that kids of different ages would appreciate it together. So I'll be keeping this one on my bookcase for a few years longer yet.

""Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily: "messing - about - in - boats; messing -"
"Look ahead, Rat!" cried the Mole suddenly."
Pages 16 + 17

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)