Wind In the Willows by Kennith Greene
Sylvie Larsen: Nothing made me more desperate for summer than reading THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. Kennith Greene’s pastoral novel about anthropomorphic animals “messing about in boats” and running around in the woods made me long for that idea of summer, friendships and adventure. It also made me long to see an otter consulting a pocket watch, but I just don’t live in Greene’s world; and I have to come to terms with that.
Rather than one cohesive story the book is composed of several snippets from the lives of some of the creatures who live in this forest/river area. Mostly we follow Mole, Water Rat, and Toad as they go through their cute little days doing cute little things. They have picnics and spring cleaning days; they go off to visit friends and have adventures. One such adventure leads them to discover the god Pan hanging out on an island, and it blows their tiny little minds. Pan knows this, of course (he’s a god), and so erases it from their memories. The book is filled with these, “Wait...what?” moments, such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which while the inspiration for a fun ride at Disney, leads to a rather bleak jail sentence for the guy.
I will say that there were moments where I was a bit confused about the rules of this little forest world, such as how anyone makes money or how a frog can borrow clothes from a human (are they the same size?), but of course, when reading a book like this it is best to suspend one’s disbelief and just go with it. For example, while Mole, Rat and Toad are venturing out for a picnic, Mole chooses to walk with the horse, as the horse had complained of feeling “frightfully left out,” but later on another horse isn’t able to speak at all!
Aside from those little issues with “rules,” THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS would make an excellent bedtime book as the chapters are mostly self-contained stories. I will say it might be a bit tough for a young reader, as there are lots of British-isms and long words that may need to be clarified, but that is not always a bad thing!