on 12 July 2008
I've been waiting for this version to come out on CD for a long time. My tapes, both sets, have worn out! I will never tire of listening to this, despite the fact that I scorn most children's literature nowadays! David Jason's Toad is a complete joy, conniving, self-pitying but loveable all the same, just like Toad should be. This version is atmospheric, funny, beautifully acted and 'comfort' listening of the first order. Forget the modern world and all its PC ways. Sit back and listen and pretend everything's alright - just for awhile...
on 11 June 2005
I was seriously deprived as a child and never read the "Wind in the Willow," nor did I have it read to me. Given that my Mom is an avid reader and encouraged me to be one also, I don't know why this classic was omitted from my early reading repertoire. When I met my husband, he discovered I had never read Kenneth Grahame's book, and told me it was/is one of his favorites. So, the first gift I ever received from him was a copy of "Wind in the Willows," inscribed "A kid's book for a special lady, who is a child at heart." Now the marvelous adventures of the Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger still delight, as they did that first time many years ago, when I was 19 years-old. If you are older than eight, the reading level says 4-8, and are not familiar with this tale, by all means get yourself a copy and enter the magical world created by Mr. Grahame, who wrote this as a series of bedtime stories for his son in 1908. As far as literature goes, the writing is quite lyrical, really beautiful and inventive, and so intelligent. A samples below, describes the scenery of new surroundings:
"He thought his happiness 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 such 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 who shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver, glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated."
Grahame writes this exuberant, humorous fantasy, about the adventures of four close friends, all animals, who live in the English countryside, the Wild Wood, to be exact. He tells the tale from the animals' points of view, emphasizing the etiquette and sensibilities of woodland creatures, and those who make their homes and livings underground and on river banks. Throughout his narrative he explains how animal society works, and how non-human creatures perceive the world around them.
Toad, of glorious Toad Hall, is a spoiled, rich, rather eccentric creature, who is accustomed to doing exactly as he wishes. Reckless, he perpetually gets himself and his friends into trouble. They count on it, in fact. Ever a free spirit, with the money to indulge his whims, Toad discovers a new passion - motor cars. Of course he involves diligent, kind-hearted Mole, very clever Water Rat, and wise, reclusive Badger in his madness, and invariably they extricate themselves from the consequences, rescuing their friend Toad as well.
President Theodore Roosevelt and his family greatly enjoyed "Wind in the Willows." He wrote to the author praising the book. And A.A. Milne made a very popular play out of it called "Toad of Toad Hall."
Ernest H. Shepard's original ink drawings are wonderful.
on 29 September 2003
The thought of reading this classic had always been nagging at the back of my mind...I remember watching the animated adaptation that someone (the BBC?) made using stop-motion characters a while back. I seem to remember David Jason voiced Mr. Toad.
I took this tale away with me on holiday to Spain, and it's the only piece of prose that has ever made me yearn to be back in England. For sheer descriptive power - capturing the very essence of a smell, sound or sensation - Kenneth Grahame is unrivalled. Couple this with a terse, funny and perfectly conceived plot...and you have what is rightly deemed a true English classic for old and young alike. (With great illustrations, too!)
In my opinion, Grahame's finest achievement lies in the rendering of the rakish Mr. Toad - not merely in his conceited, spoilt and 'gentlemanly' persona, but also his fabulously rural adventures: or should I say misdemeanours. Crashing motor cars; escaping prison; hijacking trains...all told with such good-natured humour that you can't help but be carried back to the Merry England of old.
When I discovered when this story first came to print - 1908 - I was both surprised and unsurprised. The ideals invlolved are very much of their time, as are the attitudes of the various characters. But at the same time some of the language used and the prose style in general could easily be taken for contemporary.
Lie back in some tall, swaying grass with some cheese and port and savour this heart-warming little book.
on 30 October 2001
There is not much to say, that hasn't already been
said, about this children's classic story.
I am a collector of the numerous illustrators of
this book, its many abridgements and adaptations.
So far I have 38 different books by 35 different
illustrators. (To date, I have discovered 84
different illustrators so I have a long way to go,
though I do have most of the best-known ones -
Rackham, Shephard, Adrienne Adams, Tasha Tudor,
Michael Hague, Don Daily, John Burningham.)
This edition happens to be among my favorites.
And one of the reasons is that, except for the
gipsy caravan, Foreman does not appear to have "borrowed" other illustrators' ideas of how
the Wild Wood, The River, Toad Hall, and the
various other places and things within them look.
His vision is his own. There is also a softness to the illustrations that I have come to appreciate after seeing so many rather garish ones from some of the less talented artists.
Bonuses are notes about the author (which I
have found in a couple of other editions) and a
copy of letters to the author's son for whom
the book was originally written (which I have not seen previously), and a note from the Illustrator
Foreman which explains his inspiration.
It's a beautiful book, with illustrations on nearly every page spread....