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.