Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

2008 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of this classic of children’s literature, and I have never read it. This wonderfully illustrated edition fixed that up nicely!

This collection of tales about Rat, Mole, Mr. Toad, Mr. Badger, Otter, and all the characters that inhabit the river and "The Wild Woods," is nothing less than enchanting. My favorites are all of them, but I especially liked "Dulce Domum." In this tale, Mole smells an old house he lived in long ago. He is traveling with Rat, who neither smells nor understands Mole's reluctance to continue. The ever patient Rat consoles his friend, and together they retrace their steps and find the old house. The spend the night, even entertaining a group of mice who are out caroling.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would be "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn." Determined to find a lost baby otter, Rat and Mole paddle a boat upstream, and find the lost boy after following some mysterious and haunting music. When they find him, he is alone except for some cloven hoof tracks in the sand. Here is a passage typical of the pastoral style of Grahame:

"The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings;" (119)

A relaxing, comforting, delightful read. I am sorry I missed this as a child. Perfect for a hot summer's day. 5 stars.

--Chiron, 8/3/08

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