I've finally read The Wind in the Willows, the classic children's tale about friendship. I don't know what it was about it that never really appealed to me before, but I know that I had opportunities to read this when I was younger and just never took advantage of them. But this was one of my choices for my Children's Lit class, so I figured I had better get to it. The story follows Mole, and his adventures and friendships with Rat, Mr Toad and Mr Badger. There are plenty of adventures to be had along the river bank and in the Wild Wood, and plenty of tests of their friendship and loyalty - particularly when it comes to Toad.
The thing is, and I should probably just get this out of the way so you can all react, is that I really didn't love this book all that much. I sort of liked it - it was all right, but I really didn't love it and will not call it a favorite. It was too slowly paced for me, and I just found it too easy to put down. I should also mention that I read the majority of this while also battling the flu - which is sure to have an impact. I've found that when I'm feverish, I can be ever more awkwardly literal than usual, so I had trouble letting my imagination run with the idea of Toads driving cars, or figuring out how these animals in their world co-exist with humans in their world. I started to think about the characters as if they were Muppets in The Muppet Movie and that kind of helped... but really, I struggled. Then I started trying to gauge the age group this sort of book would be geared toward; and it would have to be an older child given the length and the vocabulary but I wonder if a 3rd grader today would get into it? Is this something intended for an adult to read aloud to a child? I'm sure this is something we will discuss in class, and I'll be curious to see what comes of that sort of discussion.
So, what did I like about it? I liked how each chapter was constructed, almost as if they were individual stories linked together by the overall tale. This would benefit the younger reader in giving them easy places to break up their reading. I also liked how well crafted the characters were developed - with distinct characteristics that played off of each other well. Of course the over all message of true friendship is always nice to read, and the illustrations were pretty cute too. There is no question that this is a very well written book, and clearly a classic of children's literature, but just not my favorite. I wonder if I'd feel differently had I read this first as a child?
The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame
Scholastic, 1988. First Published 1908.
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